As I write I feel as if I am making this all up, for there in our patch we call the wild garden stand the tall decorative grasses which are now filled with dried seeds. Sparrows, or spuggies as my fellow Yorkshire-folk might call them, land in what appear to be their zillions. Each one lands upon the lawn below one of the tall grass stems. It then flies straight up to grasp the head of grass which is full of seeds. The weight of the little sparrow causes the grass to bend into a loop so the sparrow is practically upside down, clinging on and eating. When the sparrow is done it raises it wings and lets go. The grass springs back to its tall position and this is enough to catapult the sparrow into a rising loop. The little bird uses its wings to slow its descent, almost like a humming bird, or a base jumper. The impression to me as I view through the bedroom window is that it is on an invisible big dipper. Then there is the landing. The other main feature of the wild area currently is a great load of the beautiful Golden Rod. It too is full of seeds causing them to bend. They form an intertwined hanging bed. The bounding sparrow then lands upon this golden bed and bounces, up and down, up and down quite a few times, as if upon a trampoline. Look there goes another one.
Even a simple blog can take half a day to put together…
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
For sale on Bandcamp my amusing yet informative history of the Itchin bridge.
My DIY Indie-publishing self-help guide for audio and printed matter
Yes this is my DIY Indie-publishing self-help guide for audio and printed matter. I don’t know anything. I am trying to find out. Heidi says this is my Research Progression. I am taking you with me on a journey. A journey to the end of the blog. It is my hope that by we get down there to the bottom of blog we will have learned a great deal. You and I are on a journey of discovery together.
I have started already. My first step was to enquire of the hive mind. I asked my friends. I posted on social media and I got responses. Tons of suggestions, examples and encouragements. I have even started to collate them. I have no idea what most of their suggestions mean.
It is a sort of DIM blog = Do It Myself
Let’s find out.
Working titles seemed a good start. So I have put everything in lists according to what I think they are. What they are used for. Tips in sections.
It gets better and better as it goes along!
Here we go.
Yes I have got previous! I am published.
What is ‘being published?’ As I understand it the meaning is really just ‘made available’. Something created for others to absorb.
Therefor I have dozens of books. At one time I created a small book for every show I did and for every project. So out there somewhere are copies of dozens of little books.
Here is the Poetry Pirates Publication I did.
I might re-release that via Amazon, or possibly on adrianspendlowblog.com or
That would be published. I am starting to think that publishing has evolved. There is a whole new way and the new way is hybrid. The indie-publisher can utilise a whole host of presentations and formats it seems.
There are five years of my blog out there and there are indeed ways for such to earn income.
I understand that the same can be said of YouTube. That I am less sure about.
I will look into both as I go along with this.
Amazon of course will also be looked at. It was my first thought when it came to getting books and comic books out there. (Maybe audio too I don’t know yet.)
Many years back Ure Poetry Press published a collection of my poetry; I guess it is long sold out.
My double CD Anvari’s Gold sold well for several years, perhaps I ought to see if I could get a copy to re-release.
I have primary targets however:
The Boat Rises, an audio show with a Viking theme is being edited for release as we speak.
Steam Tales is written and partly illustrated and ready for formatting.
I am now set up to receive donations so people can show their appreciation for my creative efforts and send me a small amount of money. I just ask for $3 then people can click it whenever they feel. I am very glad and grateful that this brings in support.
Saying Thank You
Your donation of $3 will encourage me to continue in my creative efforts.
I’ve just discovered that I can also add this sort of feature as a widget IE it will appear at the side or below the blog etc. To add a widget, go to My Sites/Design/ Customize/menu/Widgets
As for other bits:
You can add a block ‘Recommend a friend’ to your posts –
You can set up a premium content email so people can sub to get regular extras. That sounds like a lot of work. I need to keep getting stuff on to my blog to keep up the interest, without holding stuff back. Guess it might be worth it if you have a huge following and are A list or something.
You can now get credit card and PayPal payments. You can sell stuff and post it, sell downloads, you can offer services (?) – I suppose I could get paid for a gig that way, I suppose. WordPress don’t charge for this – PayPal does as normal.
I have just asked the help chat and under my premium plan I can send downloads personally through email once they have paid, and I can post books etc. There isn’t a download service available to me at present though.
To connect with a site which sells the book or download for me it seems I need a WP business plan. So sales will have to be high enough to fit with a sizeable monthly payment for the business plan.
They also have WooCommerce an online store service, so you can set up shop and sell, post and receive payments for goods globally. (Downloads happen automatically as they check out.)
I will wait till I am selling loads more I think.
The selling and posting and emailing options might be for me as soon as I have the products ready. Might be.
As with many services if you are already selling loads it is worth taking up their selling service, but you are doing OK without it by then,
I need to look at using WordPress as a website as well as a blog, so they link together. More on that in the future.
Yes I said I would talk on revenue from ads. The donations block works well for me. The revenue comes from the number of clicks through on adverts on the blog, so the more followers / readers the more you earn.
I am happy with this but am hoping for a nice break which gets me attention.
I recall Bjørn telling me a few years back that his blog had been featured on a Viking sales website and he got a quarter of a million hits in one day. That’s the sort of thing you want to happen. I guess he has even more followers now.
Bjørn also does well as a YouTuber, so I thought I would have a look at that.
YouTube – I am just not popular.
To be eligible to apply I will need another nine thousand plus subscribers and another thirty thousand for a full package.
I don’t think I will be selling product for quite a while, and getting kick-backs from views is way way off.
Unless you recommend me to all your friends.
I tell you what I like about YouTube. It is easy. Anyone can make a film on their phone and post it up there. Anyone. That’s why you find it hard to get the numbers up. No, the benefit. The thing I really like is that they are easy to upload on there and easy to link to. So, if I put a link on, say, WordPress, not only is it easy, but when the reader of my blog looks there it is well displayed. When they click to watch and listen it doesn’t take them away from my blog. They watch it on my blog.
WordPress could learn from this. I can’t see a way to link to one of my other blogs without being taken away from this one.
YouTube could do to have the creative donation button option like what WordPress has now.
I am going to talk about the use of Facebook below so it only seems right that I mention other social networking sites. After all I am looking for places to develop my market. I don’t quite get though, how a social networking site can market itself as giving you masses of privacy. I want to share my information. I want to network. I want to be out there. More than that, I want to know about you. What have you got to hide? I don’t trust you if you don’t share. You might not even be real.
I will give it a try though.
Social networking (as well as being super fun and a great way to keep in touch) is real good for getting your blog out there. I get far more response from posting my blog on my Facebook than any other outlet.
People help me create content. It is ever so rewarding to create collaborative content.
Blogs such as my one on Viking shields are a masterpiece of teamwork.
One thing they talk of is Indirect Income. If we are looking at income rather than creative outlet, this is where I benefit from blogging the most. It gets me out there and people notice and pass me about. I would not be performing in America if it were not for my blog.
I mention sharing to Facebook. When I hit publish on my blog it automatically shares to other places IE Linkedin.
I don’t auto-share to Facebook though. It always looks wrong. I manually share it by copying the link into a post and writing what I want t to say.
I can then go on to share to other people or to groups.
Blogspot / blogger
Now several people tell me you do better with Blogspot. Traffic builds faster so you get more revenue. That’s what people tell me.
Most say you need a website too.
I might start posting my WordPress blog to Blogspot too?
Sound cloud is for music. I wonder if I should cut my audio drama into tracks and put them on there? Once you are on Premier and have applied to be monetized you can earn income from listens. I guess you have to work hard to get them listener numbers up. So it’s for the future. (They do feature spoken word)
You sign up for a TuneCore account and you can get your music on there and get revenue. It lists spoken word stuff too.
There’s another way to do it. See Spee Six Nine’s feedback in the Distrokid section below.
Same as Spotify. Go through TuneCore. You can get spoken word on there too
This is a set up that allows you to earn money from ads on your website. It can also be used for blogs and apparently for YouTube. I guess that last one depends on numbers of subscribers too.
The above are ways to promote what you have. Now let’s see about getting that stuff you have available to the reader / listener.
(They are all about giving it away and hoping for revenue I guess too, Building an audience for that company’s outlet)
We are all tools on the promotional environment of this world we live in. Check your stats, check your stats.
had a few suggestions to make. One of which was that to arrange a download to sell you could set it up on one of your webpages, but do not link the page to any of your other pages. Then it cannot be accessed without the address. Then you send the link.
Ah, here’s a thought. This might be a good way to present a manuscript or a pdf version of a book you want to move from print on demand to a print-based publisher.
Sharon of Dryad Publishing pointed me in the direction of Ingram Spark. I have had a look and you can publish through them for print on demand and kindle for a current fee of $49.
They also do a distribution service, but I haven’t looked into that yet. Apparently they will get it in bookstores.
Please be aware I hear they will avoid books already published for print on demand with others such as Amazon. So look into them first before going ahead with Amazon.
There is tons of information on their site. Indeed you can download the whole self-publishing guide for free.
They distribute via Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
I haven’t looked any of them up yet. I will get on to it lower down.
Books need an ISBN – a number on the back of the book.
I understand that if you publish through Amazon or Ingram Spark you get one free, but it is only of use through them.
Otherwise you will have to buy an ISBN.
If you want your book to be available in bricks-and-mortar bookstores, you’ll need a barcode in addition to your ISBN. Some ISBN services sell barcodes, as well as ISBNs, but you can use Ingram Spark’s book cover template generator to get a free barcode.
ISBNs are sold by country: In the U.S., ISBNs can be purchased from Bowker directly through your Ingram Spark account for $85 each. You can also buy a block of ten ISBNs from Bowker for $295. In the UK, you can buy them from Nielsen Book, while Canadian publishers get ISBNs for free. A full list of ISBN distributors can be found on the International ISBN Agency’s Website.
Something to consider with regards to ISBN and print is merchandising. Are you going to be doing readings or performances? Then you will want copies to sell. Do you plummet in now and get the bought ISBN and maybe the bar code too or do you get published with a print on demand set up and then move on later?
A sea of self-publishing
I contacted Sharon Emery of Dryad Publishing for further info and her response to my project was, “That is fantastic, such a generous blog project!”
You have to get with the right agency for you. There are lots of organisations offering help. They vary from super encouraging and offering to pay for absolutely everything – Ah sorry that is only in Canada!
The other extreme is vanity publishers who just want your money apparently.
You want one who will work alongside you, ‘doing for’ when needed, supporting your actions when you are capable.
There are a vast number of self-publishing organisations out there, you will have seen. So I understand.
Sharon has in the past been to the Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester – They come under the umbrella of Troubadour who are maybe the best.
I searched it for proofreading and editing and got over 30,000 ads for people who work cheap. $5 to $100 a time. I am unsure how you know to trust and respect a freelancer from an online ad, but as Sharon says, ‘If money is tight, it’s a great option’.
Dryad Publishing look very impressive, ‘Preparational Development’ seems to be their strongest skill. They are great at chatting it through in one on one emails, to help you decide.
They have some interesting projects, both published and forthcoming too.
Write Your Story
The Creative Writing Facilitation arm of Dryad Publishing.
I had a quick look and you go through Pages. It prefers you to use an Apple device it seems but you can load up through icloud online. The first thing I saw was that you have to have a US tax ID. If you don’t have one it doesn’t seem to be any good for you. I went through the ‘how to’ process and it didn’t tell me anything about what will happen to it once it is published and more importantly it didn’t tell me what the financial deal was. I don’t want to publish and find out the cost afterwards.
If you want to look into it further then here is a ‘how to’ link from a separate site.
Ah, this says you have to have a Mac. I wonder if you have to have a Mac to get the books as well. As I read this it makes it clear that Apple Books is about eBooks. The Apple Books site didn’t tell me that. I believe this whole AB thing is a bit smelly.
I do read on here that Apple Books is very popular for publishing audio books. So it might be worth me going back to it at a later date once I am rolling with my Audio stuff. I will be very cautious if I do.
Your eBook would end up available in iTunes in the books section. It is good to know there is a books section in iTunes. I will need to look at that too.
It looks like a fairly easy way to get your book up as an eBook. They are not exclusive so you can publish elsewhere. They get it in lots of online stores. They focus on making it sound easy, so I didn’t seem to be able to sort out how much they take until I had leapt into the process.
Like Kobo above the focus is on being a bookstore, you have to scroll right down to get to publishing your book. It also is not exclusive, which is good. They show you the costs. Expect about $3.00 royalties on an average price book (That is my wild guesstimate, look on their site for proper details). They do print on demand.
Might be worth a go.
According to Dryad Publishing there is a ton of useful information on the Reedsy site.
First thing is a pop up offering a free download guide to marketing.
But yes, it is a great set of blogs. Loads of useful.
OK I might need help here. I look at the site and it tells me I can make videos, podcasts, music all sorts and then I get a following. People subscribe to my monthly outlet. It looks easy enough to set up. Trouble is I can’t see any of them. I can see the idea. I can see an invitation to become involved. I can’t see any of the videos, podcasts anything. Where does it go out to? I don’t get it.
I posted up the first recording I found on my laptop just to see. It was this quirky unusual piece.
It was a practice to see if I could handle it.
I then went in stats and it said I had one fan. So I messaged them. I got an email, I had welcomed myself.
So I have more to learn.
You need to be a follower to be able to get other people’s music.
It was easy to get started. I think I will improve as I go. I didn’t have artwork ready. I haven’t done a bio. I found sharing it to other sites and networks had a few teething problems which could have been made easier for me.
I will definitely be using it. Whether it is the place for my audio-show I am still unsure.
It is fine for spoken word stuff so that is a plus.
Might there be better ways of getting an audio drama out there though.
There are size limitations. This is not a problem for music generally. Audio books are longer though.
The limit is 291mb per track going up to 600mb which is plenty for a music track. I will have to rethink for the audio though. If I am putting The Boat Rises feature-length Viking drama up there I will need to have it cut into tracks.
It is a two-hour show so it is probably going to be about 900mb.
There is no limit to the size of an album, just the tracks within it.
I found out about Pro once I was started. It is $10 a month.
You get better stats. You can add video to your tracks. You can upload stuff in batches rather than one track at a time. There is other stuff including private streaming (I may be wrong but I think that means you can’t stream someone’s music to listen to it without buying it, otherwise it’s an option).
This sounds the way to go once you are making enough sales.
In their ‘About Us’ it says – Bandcamp’s mission is to create the best possible service for artists and labels to share and earn money from their music, and for fans to discover and enjoy it.
We believe that music is an indispensable part of culture, and for that culture to thrive, artists—no matter the size of their audience—must be compensated fairly and transparently for their work. Without this belief, our mission would be meaningless, and it’s why we’ve built our business around a model that puts the artist first.
When you buy something on Bandcamp, whether it’s digital music, vinyl, or a t-shirt, ticket or cassette, 80-85% of your money goes to the artist, and we pay out daily. The remainder goes to payment processor fees and Bandcamp’s revenue share, which is 10-15% on digital items, and 10% on physical goods.
Sounds workable – if you work at it. Or are very very popular.
Olivia Graham tells me she also uses Bandcamp and is about to add more tracks…
DistroKid get music into Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Tidal, TikTok, YouTube, Apple Music, Pandora, Instagram, YouTube, iHeartRadio, Deezer, plus a ton of other stores & streaming services.. I haven’t yet looked up Tidal or TikTok etc, but maybe I don’t need to if I join up to Distrokid. I still need to know if they deal with spoken word.
They don’t take a cut from sales. The intro says pay just $19.99.
As for me – I am thinking of ways to promote my audio-show, the Viking drama, so I checked on length limitations for distro; this is what I found – ‘The maximum size that DistroKid will accept is 250MB. If you have a track that’s larger than that, consider converting it to FLAC format before uploading to DistroKid. FLAC is a beautiful, lossless format (same audio quality as WAV) but the files are relatively small’.
(DistroKid says they have limitation to the maximum length in minutes that a track can be, but that seems to conflict with the above.)
Apparently FLAC format drastically reduces size without limiting quality. I will give it a try. Even so I am probably still looking at cutting the show into tracks.
“Like I said, most of my cash from online music comes from a load of random places and I depend on live shows and selling physical copies of my music as much as online.”
Jamie tells me they are great for free footage. He has made some great videos using their services. I will have a look for an example.
Well respected author, (and good friend), Carol MacAllister says, “The only DIY publishing that I suggest people use is Book Baby. They are wonderful to work with and take care of every facet you want to basically pay for. The cost is quite manageable.”
Am just looking now, it seems they focus on printed books rather than print on demand, and, as Carol says, they are good at marketing.
You get good advice and you can have a one-off copy printed and sent to you for $39 so you can see if you have done right.
Ah hang on, they say, “We are one of the only companies around that covers all your needs – eBooks, printed books, Print On Demand, global distribution, direct-to-reader sales, as well as design and creative services, plus marketing help.”
I popped in details of a mid-sized book with 25 printed copies and all the other goodies that are part of the package and it was around $800.
Another service Carol used came out well but didn’t do the all important follow up of marketing.
She has heard good of Amazon from other writers and she also says there is nothing wrong with building a book yourself.
DIY – Very handy to make books to hand out or to send as manuscripts, there might even be better full colour options. Speciality artwork books with a higher price may be worth making yourself too.
Back to audio drama, I need to look into selling to radio stations. I think I will go for the hybrid publishing angle IE getting it out there for sale and also offering it to radio stations.
This is the big one. All pointers point this way (for written word publications).
Dryad Publishing have had good experiences with them.
Sigrun.co.uk publish through Amazon too.
But I see she has also built a sales website with the help of Shopify. It looks very good quality. I haven’t looked into how Shopify works, I will find a link though.
Adrian on Amazon
I feel really guilty. I shouldn’t, it is downright silly, but I am writing this as I learn. Typing as I go. So, when I got stuck on publishing on Amazon I felt like I had held you all up.
I am going for it with Amazon KDP. I am putting books out there with it. It is hard work though. I guess by the second attempt it will be easier.
It does seem a bit silly of me because it is all laid out for you. Lots of information, plus the dubious claim that you can get a book up for sale in five minutes flat. I am at a week now and still working.
Stuff is here and there. Now looking back I can see how it can flow along nicely. I didn’t know where I was a few times. I downloaded the ‘how to’ for creating your book in Word. There is lots to it. All the time I was doing it I was unsure whether I should put the text in first then do the formatting or the other way round. So I was wondering if I was wasting my time all along. I was.
I then discovered the templates. So doing it step by step had been a waste of time. It was after I had been working with templates (with quite a few struggles) that I discovered that it was handy to click Bookshelf. That is where you put your books as you are building them and once they are ready too.
The template had a few quirky quirbles too.
Why do I think it is the way forward? Amazon is where you think of books being. It is where people look. I also do think I will get the hang of it.
I think I will sell well. When you look at it you can’t tell the difference between a book someone did themselves (if I work hard at professionalism) and one by a major publisher.
I am currently stuck on covers. I am about to buy a PDF maker and am unsure which one. Also do you pay monthly like for ever, or do you buy one as a one off?
I got past all those hurdles and got the book out. It is so pleasing the feedback and responses. People with a fond connection, either who I am in touch with all the time, or those it is wonderful to be back in touch with. Thank you all, for not just buying the book, but for letting me know all about it.
I have started a Supporters Club. If you have bought my single, my book on paper or kindle or if you have donated to my blog your name goes in. There it is at the bottom of every blog. Thank you all.
I then looked at Kindle. I had a few unsure moments, but I got through them, IE when it asked for a cover do I put in the front and back type cover I used for the book? Or do I cut it to just a front? If so how big? Once I post it up can I change it? I didn’t really get any answers but I went for it and managed OK. (It is front only.)
As I was setting it up on Kindle I discovered that if you do Kindle first it is easy to then convert it to a book. I would have liked to have known that first.
Anyone who has used Amazon to publish will look at my comments and think what is he on about it all flows easy. The information is all there but it isn’t easy to go along a steady path. Once you’ve done it you forget. So get to it and crack on I say.
Do a practice book like I did. It really surprised me how popular it has become.
Now I can crack on with Steam Tales – plus several other books I have in the pipeline.
Now to master adding footnotes.
Oh and finding a cover picture.
Once you are published try Authors Abroad to get you loads of performance work. Guess you will sell books while you are there.
Living in America Five – Now here is a challenge for you. It is your turn to send pictures. You all know I have been doing a series of picture blogs of my time in America; unusual things I have spotted that sort of thing. Well, I want you to shape the next blog.
For those who haven’t seen the blogs there are links below, (and the rest of you might enjoy another look too), I seem to make fun of everything, but mainly I make fun of my own exaggerated ignorance and funny way of seeing the world.
Send me interesting pictures from throughout the Americas. Let me know what you think about them, and the blog series will go wide open.
This time it is you!
Private message me on Facebook or email me email@example.com
Those of you who are already ‘following’ and may have been to events in the past will be pleased to see here a gathering of films and photos of our progress at the house.
Things are Happening at the Viking House.
This beautiful place has been awaiting us for so long. Many have asked and are interested in being actively involved. Of course the world has been in lock-down and the house is a very small part of that.
It is the time to start looking at what we can do to re-celebrate the place; to tidy and renovate and to decorate. We wish also to be able have things happen there.
What is the Viking house? There is a whole series of films and photos here in this blog about our house and our plans. Let us tell you now though that it is a rebuild of a house from that age and is in the grounds of UWGB. The university in Green Bay, Wisconsin is the home of this great feature. The ‘Jarldress’ or perhaps keeper of the house is Professor Heidi Sherman who is head of history for UWGB.
When I say that she is responsible we are talking about a budget-free situation. So anything that happens here is down to our Jarldress to make possible. For us to appreciate.
Who am I? And who are the others in the films below? There are lots of groups and individuals who are willing to take part and to arrange events. The three of us in the films below are volunteers.
I missed the house being open over the summer, for as well as wanting to help out, I miss being the storyteller for the house. Here now I can say I am just a volunteer though acting out of good will. I do happen also to be Professor Sherman’s husband which could be seen as an advantage or a disadvantage. We turn to her for guidance, permission and often for funding.
Trodin Hegn (Dwayne) and Di An are two other active participants with exciting hopes for the future.
Celebrating the Viking house will be timed nicely with the making of shields. Trodin is making shields for decoration.
Sigourney has designed a UWGB Shield image and we hope to be taking her two of Dwayne’s shields for painting. One with her design, and one with Dwayne’s (Trodin’s) own personal image (Sigourney will this be OK and fit in with your plans? – I would also love to see your other Viking design idea and see if we can use them in some way).
Dwayne and I have plans to invite gifts of shields and flags etc to show affiliations.
A Presentation Day will invite people to visit and make a gift as they walk through. This could be a decoration for the Hall made specially for the day or a ‘blessing token’ selected on the day.
We will have selection of tokens to pick from; simple things such as stones, beads and feathers and we would be glad to hear from people who wish to make or offer decorations suitable for the Viking ages such as tablet weavings or utensils. While arranged outside folks can talk about the donations and the work of others.
There are of course severe restrictions and we will plan within these. IE masks must be worn, people must gather with six feet apart in the area of the Viking house and then parade through the hall slowly with a maximum of ten people in there at any one time. This will include the presenters and hopefully a small film crew.
(Dress for the weather.)
This event is planned to take place on Saturday October 3rdA provisional date. from one o’clock onwards. We will publicise once it is confirmed but for now please ‘pencil’ it in and start thinking ahead. Exciting times.
Let us know that you are interested.
As for those affiliations, this will be groups or festivals which we have connections with. We will be glad to hear from you about connections we have with you. To date we are approaching five different groups we have affiliations with.
As Skald to the Chieftain of Njardarheimr Viking Town in Gudvangen, Norway I will be approaching my chieftain (my blood brother) for a flag of the Njardarheimr symbol. No, I will ask now – Dear Georg is it possible that you could arrange us a flag of the town or a banner for the town for our display? I will be glad to pay if needs be.
I am also a member of The British association The Vikings through their group at York University; Vanaheimr. I am a member of this dynamic group from the university and will be asking them for a flag or banner for us to display. I will ask them now too. Dear Jarl please could you arrange a symbol of our affiliations?
I say hi to Tim Jorgenson of Viking Connections, the coordinator of Viking events for The Historical and Cultural Society for Clay County.
Tim I am pleased you are ‘cogitating’ upon the idea of sending us an affiliation item. We will be displaying our pride in connection with River Ravens upon our hall walls in the near future I hope.
I interviewed Tim for a project I was involved in prior to the Covid catastrophe. Here is the interview. Although almost everything was cancelled for all of us in 2020 I am hoping that most of the things mentioned will reappear in a new guise in 2021.
Stop Press – I’ve chatted to Tim and we are saving a space for a shield and he will be making us one especially later in the year.
My present title is “Director of Viking Connection,” although I’m also known as a general coordinator of various Viking events in our region, as well as a hobbyist blacksmith and woodworker. Viking Connection (www.vikingconnection.org) is an outreach program run by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, Minnesota (HCSCC). We are housed in the Hjemkomst Center, in Moorhead, home of the Gokstad Viking ship replica Hjemkomst, that sailed to Norway in 1982. HCSCC also interprets a Hopperstad Stave Church replica, a reconstruction of the Viking-Age stavkirke still standing in Vik, Norway. Viking Connection is a natural extension of HCSCC’s on-going work to preserve and present Viking-Age folk art in the Midwest.
We invite artists specializing in the Viking Age crafts of Scandinavia to teach and tour in the states of ND, SD, MN, IA, WI, and the UP of MI. We also offer an apprenticeship program to send dedicated students from the Midwest to study their chosen craft with a master artist in Scandinavia. Lastly, we offer a database of international artists interested in networking with each other.
Together with fellow Minnesotan, Kyle Jameson, we started a Viking living history group called, “River Ravens” (www.riverravens.org), largely as a way to have a name for our group when we are hired to provide an encampment, crafts, or entertainment for events in our area. We joined up with UK-based, Regia Anglorum because we really enjoy the authenticity policy they have in place, their research, and their continuous efforts to stay up-to-date with recent archaeological findings. In all, we participate in between 5-10 events annually, the largest being North America’s largest Scandinavian festival, Norsk Høstfest, in Minot, North Dakota.
[Sadly the next paragraph covered plans which were cancelled due to the Covid thing, so I have cut the details, but I am sure there will be another exciting program in 2021 with a Viking skill being brought back to share around festivals and events here. – Ade.]
One of the exciting things to look forward to in 2020, is the Viking Connection apprenticeship. Each year we send a student to Scandinavia to learn from selected artists with the goal of learning new skills or advancing pre-existing skills with a Viking Age craft.
I’m continually being contacted by different organizations interested in creating Viking Age events, or adding a Viking presence to a broader-themed event, so keep an eye on the River Raven’s and VC websites for 2020 opportunities.
Thank you Tim.
Visit the site for The Historical and Cultural Society for Clay County…
We had a wonderful visit to Balagard the Viking age Finland festival in Hancock, Michigan. A great town and a great festival. This is a bi-annual festival so the Covid epidemic probably wont be an effect and then this exciting event will be back in 2021 as planned.
Toby of Balagard was saying to me about the idea of links between groups and how it would be good to have a story linking each shield or item to the group it was from.
I ask now, ‘Hi Toby, can I ask if it is possible to have a shield or item representing your group for our house in Green Bay?’
The Viking House, University Wisconsin, Green Bay. New era feature.
So yes, my wife Professor Heidi Sherman, as well as being head of history for UWGB, is also the Jarldress for the Viking house. I have never thought of this before, but, wait for it, what does that make me!
Answers on a postcard please.
She has created many events and developments around the house but of course it has all been on hold this year. We are just starting to get the place going again.
There are many who volunteer to help keep the place going and I have been along with a couple of good pals recently to make a start. So here is a feature on the place.
Dwayne is making a shield with his own design on for the display with our collection. We are hoping for donations from other groups and other individuals (you) of samples of their craft.
My groups shield from York University’s Viking group Vanaheimr.
A group planted Hops and I wanted to capture them flourishing so they could see what a good job they had done. Each year they will get more and more prolific.
Raised beds were in lock down.
You can tell the fire pit hasn’t been used in a while.
We need a clear out or a hiding place.
Ideally there shouldn’t be anything modern on view if someone comes to take a photo. The oven needs its cover though to protect all Dwayne’s hard work and we remove it as soon as an activity is preparing.
I can’t wait to get that oven going again and get some cooking done. We are still limited on events of course. Let us look ahead though.
The current wood pile is mainly stuff which was too long for our stove at home, so I guess we will soon get through it and be looking for more.
This is the John
I am thinking we could cut some of the buckthorn to make our little fence out of.
Ah apparently the hawthorn is an invasive so we can cut as much of that as we like.
The box fence is our next project. We are hoping for a bit of help, and to have it finished before the decorations day.
Just down the slope from us is the Frisbee-Golf
The grounds are beautiful
Owen and Elspeth are the lovely couple who made all of this possible.
I haven’t met Harry, but we are all very grateful that he found a way to make a difference to our Viking heritage here at UWGB.
(I would like to know a little more about the cookhouse too)
Maintaining a Viking House can be a Hornet’s nest
We came back again and had a bit of an inspection;
The full team inspection
The Parking situation
After we left today we passed a few Heron, they were standing close to picnickers by the river and I was surprised at how tall they were. I guess at nearly five foot, Dwayne tells me they can reach six foot. The Heron not the Turkeys, or we would be having a good Thanksgiving.
Flax drying will make an interesting addition to the decor.
Then we could process it ready to spin into linen thread.
We have plans for wool too. Insulation.
The return and this time we are equipped.
We needed refreshing.
Refreshments were created by team host Jarldress Sherman
I will catch that frog
Let us be-strim
This is why we were here.
And we got the job done, well Dwayne did.
What’s next boss?
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Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool
Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool
Right, I am going to get strict now.
Storytellers must always tell traditional stories which they have learnt by listening to another storyteller. They must sit and not move and they must never ever utilise items – the sinful prop! Sit still and tell old things rigidly.
Well there we have a whole set of rules to be broken. I certainly break them all. It is a school of thought though, an old school of thought.
There is a vision of the teller in a big chair and everyone hushed and still looking up in awe. It does happen. These are moments to cherish.
My first thought would be, where to put that chair.
Put yourself in your space. Find the place where you feel right.
I like to get there early. I step into that school hall and I guess I am getting the vibe, I most usually walk straight to a spot, “I would like to stand here”. It isn’t always where they expect you to go.
It is the same on a ship, in cave or on a stage. Put yourself where you need to be.
“Can you put my chair here please?”
“And my table here if you are using ‘the dreaded prop’.
The inner translucent layer of a mammoth skin has been draped across near the rear of this cave, with a small fire behind, you step out of a hidden side alcove when they are distracted and you beat a hollow log with your talking staff; you are suddenly there, a misty figure in front of them.
And you have your place.
Your place in history.
Step around into the open and stamp your white staff to the ground. Stay silent for a moment while they take in the carvings and the natural twist leading to the gleaming crystal.
Play a little on your cave harp.
Or say but three words then lift up your bone flute.
If you are more modern than this you may be wishing to commune with Odin. Your fur-covered Chanter’s Stool is brought out for you and you flick your cloak as you sit.
The large seat.
The shamanic drum.
The soft toy – well, that is me.
Rocky the Dragon gets very sad because he never gets any kisses.
I might be better getting a white wood staff.
And so to sit.
Or both. I tend to be out of my chair most of the time but starting things off sitting seems to work for me. I am a bit all action and cannot keep still.
Silliness seems to happen. In among the gripping and the scary a bit of silliness too.
‘I have lived in the land of fairy – and I have never been the same since.’
Being trapped in a fairy ring causes one to have to dance and for all people laugh they are intrigued. For all the silliness of stories of meeting and even marrying beings from the realm of the Fey I tend to attract people who hang around to tell me of their real-life experiences of meeting or seeing creatures from the mystical lands.
You have to remember who is out there. I will look at the idea of being a ‘Skald’ in a little while, let it be said there is always a sense of ceremony. The way we conduct ourselves, be it at a ritual or on the content of our set lists should always seek to be inclusive. In your audience is someone who happens to have come along, a tourist who wants to see how we do things, a historian, an Odinist or Asatru who follows the ways of the old gods, a person of another religion.
Respect. Respect mixed with entertainment.
Art is always a compromise. There is the viewer the one experiencing the art. They are to be considered. And yet one must maintain their own integrity.
Yet you must always do what it says on the tin. If it says chocolate milk we don’t want root beer coming out into the glass.
Many circles are spontaneous of course. Chiefly though, you have been invited. The audience have come along because of what the publicity said.
The publicity has been written by the inviter, they wrote it after talking to you, but they also put their own needs into it.
You must try and fit with this description.
You might always try and describe yourself slightly differently from the last time.
What does it say on your tin?
We have talked a little of the oral tradition; that the content and possibly style of our ‘show’ come from the past.
If we talk to a ballad singer, someone from the folk world or perhaps a shanty singer, we will come across the school of thought; traditional means that nobody wrote it. An old song has gone through so many singings, been passed from one singer to another, that the version we hear now is no longer anything like the first song which somebody actually wrote.
The shanties or other work songs have been created by the group to fit a rhythm or a need so have really evolved and developed.
We do live in a modern world where information is available to all. So it is possible to go back to the root or at least dig deep.
We are also freed up a little by this information availability. We can ‘tell’ in our own way. As long as we are respectful to the story.
Some of the records of folklore etc are a little clumsy, they are a record for posterity, not a classic novel.
This is where that second storyteller by the universal fire comes into things. Making the story better, more fun, gripping, relevant to the original concept, getting it all across is a skill. A developed skill. This is just as much a tradition as passing along the accuracy of the tale. We are all somewhere in the middle of this quandary, this long drawn out ‘story’. That innovative storyteller is a tradition.
Take the responsibilities with you but bring that tale alive. It deserves you. It deserves you to be your very best.
Embrace the past in your own way.
Where are we in the timelessness of storytelling and can we become our self back then as if we are there.
There are old stories. They were not always written down, as they are now, yet they survived. The enjoyment of them survived. So, although we can be glad of those who recorded them and of those who share them today, it was never meant for such a rigid thing as text. Never let it be so.
Tens of thousands of people may have told of that dugout canoe the first people survived in before and spider taught written signs to any tribe.
(I am not too sure how the canoe got to every single nation in the world – but I have heard of it wherever I go!)
I cannot tell you what to do. I don’t know how your mind works. I do know one thing; every individual’s mind works in a different way.
Go with your failings.
Mine is names. So I allow myself to forget. I think of ways. His brother. The tall giantess. With a flick of her hair. You know; avoidance, distraction.
You might want to force yourself to digress. Or to get back onto topic quicker.
I’ve talked of being a collector. Here is an aspect which can make the whole audience die of groaning or can fill hearts with soaring fire, (not to be sexist, but I think I am talking blokes); details.
Factual information. I struggle here in the same way as I do with names to be honest. I did, however, experience a split of reactions recently.
My father drove steam engines. You can already see where this is going. I have told great stories from his experiences for many years. Before a recent performance I thought I should have a refreshing look through his book. There was all that information; fourteen-foot fireboxes, that sort of thing.
Then here among it all was, 40302.
Engines always had a number like this. To me it is just a number. Then I read in my own father’s book that there is a reason behind this number; a sense to it. It refers to the wheels; 40302. There are four axles, a space, three axles, a space, two axles.
I look quickly now at my (currently virtual) audience and half of them are raising their eyes at an obtuse angle and half are achingly keen to hear more of such things which will fill them with inner bliss.
Where do you sit in this factual quandary?
How are you going to challenge yourself!
(Or cope with yourself.)
To be fair to myself I managed to play on that division within my audience and they laughed as they re-enacted their reactions.
I actually challenged an audience member, (it was in a chatty circle event were sharing was encouraged – and there was beer.), “How can you be so sure?”
“Oh,” he replied, “I file all my memories in date order”.
We are all different.
Shout out a date, another friend of mine can tell you not only what day of the week it was but every little thing about what happened. I gave her a date from the seventies and she described the embroidered flowers on my yellow large-lapelled suit jacket.
Another friend cannot pick and choose she has to scroll. She can recall every single thing which happened to her from the age of three, every feeling, every sound, smells, the works.
Will your mind allow you to be spontaneous?
Find a way.
The Skalds did poetry. Bards too. Many say poetry is a means of remembering something. I say do not memorise poetry. It will rattle along like a maraca in a samba band.
Poetic works need the meaning emphasising not the rhythm, beats or rhymes.
For me, I have written thousands of poems, I have two I can do from memory.
Set me on with storytelling though.
I have worked a full week of six hour days and finished the story just in time to clock off.
(It was a queue constantly streaming into a museum so I had to be sure and make every element work alone.)
I am quirky.
Not being believed is another failing of mine. The whimsical way I portray tales makes people think I have made it all up, I think it is my cheekiness. The fact that I have spent hours on research and finding new ways to think are lost in the gag.
Hours of research go into one snippet; a gag from hours.
This is a concept I have real difficulty explaining. There must be a word for it. There must.
Like there is for what Jung did. To posit. He explains how he was asked how the brain worked and he didn’t know. So he said there were two parts; the conscious and the unconscious. Now there is. There really is. He posited.
Say how something is and therefore it is forever so.
Edward De Bono reckoned that we posit all the time; especially politicians.
It is one aspect of what I mean.
I’ve described this idea in detail to someone whom was writing a thesis for academics to assess and she said what I meant was historical research.
That doesn’t seem quite right to someone plodding along in their own way hoping for the best.
If you talked to anyone going to a museum they would describe it as ‘the point’ because every single person who goes in an old place has a point to make. It is more important than looking to see what is in there. They have researched. They have thought. Here is the thought!
I am full of such thoughts.
(I try to address my stories with such things.)
I slip them in. I am the only person in history of Vikings to give the Gods surnames. Well, Patronyms. It took me ages to think about it and then I do a story and say Odin Borrsson and nobody notices. ‘Ah yes, that is his name.’
This is an inspirational talk so you can go away and not be motived either.
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