Coming Soon: Under the Strawberry Moon, The Road to Valhalla Prequel


I'm pleased to announce my upcoming series, The Road to Valhalla. This series retells the epic of the shield-maiden Hervor. She is most well know for her appearance in The Hervarar Saga. This story is set just before the Viking period in myth tales of Scandanavia. It tells Hervor's tale as she seeks to discover her identity and place in the world. I am so in love with this world. The research has been awesome, but as I worked, I realized on very important thing. In order to properly tell Hervor's story, I needed to share some of the events that occur BEFORE she is born. That's where UNDER THE STRAWBERRY MOON comes in. This novel is written from the perspective of Hervor's mother. Telling the events leading up to Hervor's birth will go a long way to explaining why Hervor is born into such a sad and desperate situation. UNDER THE STRAWBERRY MOON will release later this month. AND, it will be FREE for my newsletter subscribers. If you don't currently subscribe to my newsletter, be sure to click the NEWSLETTER tab at the top of the page to sign up!

I wanted to give you a little taste of this upcoming book and world. Here is a first look at UNDER THE STRAWBERRY MOON, the prequel to The Road to Valhalla.


Novel Description

Under the strawberry moon, the gods of Asgard whisper to me.

Balder murmurs love.
Bragi blesses my voice.
Sif gifts me with beauty.
But these blessings go wasted in the sleepy village of Dalr where I am simply Svafa, the jarl’s daughter. A völva tells me I am destined to marry a hero, that my child’s name will become legendary. How I’m supposed to achieve this enormous fate is beyond me. However, when my father announces we shall visit the great temple in Uppsala for the midsummer blót, I can feel my fortune changing. The Æsir are busy weaving their own plans, and I cannot wait to find out what destiny the Norns have planned for me.
 Under the Strawberry Moon is a prequel to The Road to Valhalla series.


Chapter 1 Preview

One

The summer sun bathed the meadow in sunlight. My golden hair hanging loose, I raced through the wildflowers. Butterflies rose off the poppies, buttercups, and fireweed that colored the field with hues of fire red, soft pink, and sunset purple. They fluttered around me. Breathing hard, I ran through the field. My heart thundered with excitement, feeling like it would burst out of my chest.
“Svafa, wait,” Asta called, rushing across the field behind me. A cat under one arm, a basket in the other, she chased after me, an angry look on her face.
Forcing myself to squash my excitement, I stopped. I paused and picked handfuls of wildflowers while my sister hurried to join me.
When Asta finally reached me, she dropped her cat then threw the basket she was carrying at me. “You never do what you promise. You said we were going to pick strawberries.”
I shrugged. “We are. But the best ones grow on the other side of the dale,” I said, looking toward the forest. A path led into the sacred grove to the tree known as Grímnir’s Eye and the longhouse where the gothar lived. But on the other side of the forest, an hour’s walk away and on the top of a mountain, was another field. There, wild strawberries grew in abundance. But Asta was right. I had lied. I knew my sister would never make the journey. I wanted to get rid of her, and this was the best way to do it.
“What’s wrong with the strawberries here?”
“They’re too small.”
“I’m not walking through the grove and up the side of a mountain just for strawberries. I’m going back.”
“Lazy.”
At that, Asta clenched her fists and stepped toward me. “I dare you to say that again.”
My heart pounded in my chest. I met her dark eyes. “You’re lazy, Asta.”
“And you’re a liar. I’m telling Father.”
“You’re going to tell him what? That you were too lazy to walk across the dale? Or that you’re too frightened of the gods.”
Asta looked at the woods. The grove evoked a sense of awe in many and terror in some. Deep in the forest, you could feel the presence of the gods. They called to me. But it was not the same for everyone. Mother hated the place and so did Asta.
“Shut up,” Asta said then picked up the basket. She turned away from me. “Gibby,” she called, looking for her cat. “Gibby, where did you go? Gibby?”
Grinning, I pulled off my boots, then turned and ran into the woods. I could feel the Earth’s heartbeat pulsing in the ground below me. As the wind blew through the trees, I swore I heard the gods whisper in every rustling leaf. Closing my eyes, I looked up, feeling the rays of sun shining down on my face in dappled blobs.
Svafa.
I opened my eyes and gazed all around. In the distance, I saw the outline of a man. He was not really there, just a figure that wavered like sunlight. He waved for me to follow.
I hurried to the Grímnir’s Eye. The massive yew tree was said to have grown from a seed from Yggdrasil that had lodged itself in the eye Odin sacrificed. I lay the bunch of wildflowers I had picked at the base of the tree. “For you, All-Father. For shining Balder. And for Sif,” I whispered, touching the tree. “May everything I do be for you. May every action I take be in your name. Guide me. Guide my steps,” I whispered into the bark of the tree, my lips just inches from the trunk. “Bring me good fortune. Bring me…bring me someone to love.”
Svafa. Svafa, come.
The wind blew. The soft breeze was warm. It ruffled my hair like someone had blown on the back of my neck. I giggled then turned and raced away, deeper into the forest.
The feeling of the soft earth and leaves below my feet made me buzz with life energy. My hair, which Mother called a rat’s nest of gold, blew in the breeze. When I reached the creek, I hiked up my skirts to my knees and crossed carefully. The water, which came down from high in the mountains, was icy. The rocks on the bottom of the stream were slippery.
I cast a passing glance at the longhouse hidden amongst the trees on the rise above the water. From inside, I heard chanting.
Later.
I would find her later.
Splashing to the other side of the creek, I dropped the hem of my dress and began the climb up the mountain. It was not an easy hike. I couldn’t really blame Asta for not wanting to come. She was far better with embroidery and other ladies’ things. Nature did not call her, aside from her affinity for her cats. But there was no harm in that. Freyja must have loved her well to give her such a way with the creatures. My sister wasn’t all bad; she just wasn’t me. And I didn’t want her with me today. At the same time, guilt wracked me as I thought over what I’d done. I needed to be kinder to Asta. It wasn’t her fault we were not the same. And for all our differences, she’d still wanted to be with me.
Svafa.
“I’m coming,” I whispered.
My hands gritty with bark, my feet dirty, sweat trickling down my back, I finally reached the top of the mountain on the other side of the dale. A wide field filled with poppies spread out before me. The meadow had so many flowers it looked scarlet. As I gazed out at the flowers, I exhaled. I was completely alone with nothing but the sunshine and flowers for my friends. Laughing, I ran to the center of the field and flopped down amongst the blossoms. I closed my eyes, soaking up the sun.
Svafa.
The wind blew. It felt like a hand stroking my hair. My dress fluttered up, the wind caressing my legs. The warm breeze felt good. The sun beat down on me, making me sweat. I undid the ties on the neck of my dress and pulled the skirt up to my upper thighs. I relished the feeling of the sunlight on my legs.
“Shining Balder,” I whispered. “I feel you. Bring me a hero. Bring me a man who would slay dragons for me. Bring me a fierce man to love,” I said. My hand slipped over my breast, touching it gently. I imagined myself with a lover. I imagined a fierce warrior who would give me mighty sons, warriors whose names would strike fear into the hearts of men. I wanted to bare giants. “Sif, bless me with your beauty. Let me turn the eye of such a man. Balder, bring me a man who carries your fire in his very blood. Bless me with your light.”
I opened my eyes a crack, seeing only the blinding sunlight. But inside it, there was the vague silhouette of a man. No, not a man, a god. He stood before me. I could feel his presence. The wind blew, a sensation like hands slipping up my thighs to my secret parts made me groan with pleasure.
Svafa. Svafa. Be careful what you wish for.



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