J. A. Hunsinger is an Author, Publisher, Amateur Archaeologist and Historian. His Axe of Iron Series Details The Settlement Of A Large Group Of Norsemen On The North American Continent Beginning In 1008 AD.
J. A. Hunsinger lives in Colorado, USA, with his wife Phyllis. He writes and promotes full-time. His three book trilogy Axe of Iron Series can be purchased at Vinland Publishing. His books are also available from Amazon.
Although he has long been a writer, much of his adult life has been associated with commercial aviation, both in and out of the cockpit. As an Engineering Technical Writer for Honeywell Commercial Flight Systems Group, Phoenix, AZ, he authored two comprehensive pilots’ manuals on aircraft computer guidance systems and several supplemental aircraft radar manuals. His manuals have been published and distributed worldwide to airline operators by Honeywell Engineering, Phoenix, AZ. His first published work for the general public, Flight Into Danger, appeared in Flying Magazine, (August 2002). Many of his articles have been featured in other periodicals and websites or are featured on his blog.
After his flying career ended on his 60th birthday, he found himself with time to continue his writing; this first novel was actually begun more than twenty years ago. He attended many writing classes and seminars, but couldn’t sustain a head of steam as a writer. All of that changed abruptly in 2004, when he remarried. Phyllis provided the necessary push and as a result he treated writing as work, which it most certainly is.
Writing is a learned craft. In order to learn to write, you must write. Eventually the classes must be set aside; set a daily work schedule and stick to it. That is not to say you should stop taking classes altogether; learning is a lifetime experience. Sooner or later though, you must take the plunge and go at it on your own.
Have a story to tell, one that you like. Then sit down and get busy. Have your work professionally edited: rewrite, edit, rewrite, until you’ve gotten it as good as it can be.
That’s all there is to being a writer.
Tell us what makes you proud to be a writer from Grand Junction, Colorado? Writing is the culmination of a lifetime of learning and working at my chosen profession. My first composition for hire was as an air transport engineering technical writer. Now, for the first time I am able to work at my own pace in response to my criteria for the task at hand. I always wanted to write, but my primary mission was to make a living for my family, so I had no time for pie-in-the sky dreams. Now that my career has ended and my life is settled I can write without the worry of making a living. If my books continue to find a market, one day I might perhaps make a success of this. In the meantime I am telling my stories, people are buying and reading my books, and that is what this is all about for me. It never was about the money; rather it is about telling the story.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I have been a writer all my life, but I merely dabbled at writing. But I did have a story to tell that gradually possessed me, so I had to tell it. My wife, Phyllis provided the support and advocacy that I needed to actually write a novel.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? I began to write the story 20-years ago, but the time and desire to write and finish the work did not manifest itself until I retired from flying and remarried. My soul mate entered my life in Feb. 2004. From that point on she gave me the shove that I needed to organize the details of what had been rattling around in my head over most of my adult life.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and why? Yes, definitely! I came from a military family of readers and I was raised before TV ruined the family unit in American society. My Dad wrote many short stories and articles, so his grasp of the English language and his amazing vocabulary impressed me from the beginning. My entire education was in Parochial schools and Parochial College, so I received the best stimulus available to become whatever I wanted.
Do you come up with your title (s) before or after you write the manuscript (s)? I have all the titles of my Axe of Iron Series noted, as each covers a certain segment of the series and that title reflects a major scene of that particular book.
Tell us why you write the genre (s) that you write? I am an avid reader of both history texts and historical fiction novels. Written history has many holes, gaps if you will, that give an author an endless supply of fodder. It is natural for me to tell stories about subjects in which I have an interest. The Greenland Vikings and the medieval Viking culture in general have always been my focus. My Swedish/German heritage is another reason for my interest in the medieval Germanic tribes.
The Axe of Iron Series are character-driven, historical fiction books. My characters tell the story and the reader sees the events through their eyes. I have had a lifelong interest in the medieval Norse people. That interest became focused on the five hundred year history of the two known Norse Greenland settlements. The mystery surrounding their abandonment and the disappearance of every single person living therein has captured my imagination. My books offer a plausible story of what my reading and research has indicated may have happened to them.
Tell us your most rewarding experience while in the writing process? That would have to be when the rough draft is finished and I read the entire manuscript and realize that I have written a good story.
Tell us your most negative experience while in the writing process? The road to publication has been a nightmare because of the time and money wasted while I learned the business. I wish I could say that there is lots of help out there for the newbie’s, but actually, the reverse is true. You are prey swimming in the shark’s pool— take heed. Believe nobody, and get everything in writing, research, research, and research. Even then, you will have picked the worst time in the world’s economy to enter the business.
Dealing with agents is a most disheartening undertaking for a writer. Agents act like the writer exists because of agents, when in fact it is the other way around. I wasted a year trying to find an agent from among those professing to have an interest in my area of my genre only to find that there are not any in existence. I have no need for an agent. Having said all of that, though, clearing the air so to speak, I do have a few suggestions if you are interested.
Do your homework on the submission guidelines for any query. All literary agents will have their own guidelines; adhere to them absolutely. Do not ever send a manuscript unless it is requested. Hire professional editors to edit everything that another person will read, especially the final draft of your manuscript. Spell check, spell check, and spell check.
An English teacher is not an editor and you cannot edit your own work, so hire someone. Your professionalism will determine whether you ever make the grade. A shabby cover letter on your submission packet will guarantee its demise. Agents and publishers are busy people and they have no time to waste on people who do not follow their submission guidelines.Tell us your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? When you hold your finished book in hand. You will have been through a gut wrenching, mind-numbing roller coaster ride. You will have wanted to get off more than a few times, but you stuck it out and your finished book has made it worthwhile.
Tell us your most negative experience in your publishing journey? Having to learn the trade, write my book, take care of copyright, ISBN, barcodes, etc. and find a reputable house to print, manage, warehouse, and distribute my books was a negative from the outset. It made the process all uphill and much of the pleasure was lost as a result. I did find such a house in BookMasters, Inc., Ashland, OH, but it was a long search. Bookmasters can and will do everything they tell you. However, be aware that there are MANY unscrupulous people and companies out there waiting to take your money while promising the moon. Now that I know something about the business I have found this second book of my Axe of Iron series to be a satisfying experience. I would have preferred to hire a literary agent and publish my work through a large house. That did not happen due in part to the continued decay of publishing in this country. In this economy, which will continue to worsen at all levels, few large houses will survive, leaving the small independent publisher as one of the few avenues to publication for an author. Those publishers that survive, large and small, will be extremely selective in the books that they publish, leaving many authors to wither away.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Our mission as authors is to get published. Let’s assume that your manuscript is a first draft. Before you can send out query letters telling the world of the birth of the great American novel, your work needs editing. I do not mean having a friend, an English teacher, your boss, or any other layman read your manuscript, no, I mean that you must engage the services of a professional editor. Thus begins the process of polishing your manuscript until it is the best it can be. This process can involve numerous corrections and rewrites. Done correctly it is a lot of work. I do all editing electronically within MS Word. The time and expense involved varies with the quality of the work. One hundred thousand words will cost in the neighborhood of $2000.00, or more, by the time you get it right.
Believe it or not, writing your book is only the beginning. With a final draft of your manuscript in hand, it is time to query. Famous people query with a proposal before writing the manuscript. I will assume that you are not yet famous. As an author, you cannot deal directly with one of the large publishing houses, so your next challenge is to interest a literary agent in your work. If you find a literary agent, your relationship will be contractual. Do nothing with anyone without a contract. Fully understand your part of the contract before signing, or hire an attorney versed in literary contracts to help you understand. There are numerous listings of literary agents on the Internet. Research each agent for their submission guidelines, select those receptive to your genre, be certain that they are accepting submissions, submit only what they require, and never send an unsolicited manuscript. They will not read it. Your literary agent will handle your contractual relationship with a publisher; they are your agent acting in your behalf.
If you are fortunate enough to become a published author through the literary agent/publisher/reader sequence of progression, congratulations, you have hit the big time. Your publisher will handle all the details of composition/format, cover design, printing/binding, fulfillment/marketing, and warehouse/distribution, leaving you free to crank out books. You will have little or no input regarding any of the production aspects of your book, nor will you retain any rights other than copyright. The publisher will own the ISBN and all future negotiations for anything concerning that work will be through, or with the permission of, the publisher.
Who is your favorite author? Why I am my favorite author, of course! But, I continue to read with pleasure: Cecil Scott Forester, Wilbur Smith, Ayn Rand, W.E.B Griffin, Ken Follett, and too many others to list in this space.
Assimilation will wet the appetite of the fans that have developed a fascination with the plight of the Greenland Viking settlers in the first two novels of the series, The Settlers and Confrontation.
The twists and turns of this continuing tale will engage the reader from the outset as the tall, fair-skinned invaders, knowing it is their key to survival, gradually assimilate with the savage natives of the pre-historical land that will become the Hudson Bay and Great Lakes regions of Canada and the US.
In a scenario ordained by the gods, this assimilation process has a thin chance of success through the forced involvement of two of the Viking settlers with tribes of natives that are habitual enemies of one another. Against overwhelming odds that can have but one successful outcome for the settlers, daily life becomes a balancing act where one word, one gesture, one innocent mistake, can spell disaster in this hostile setting.
Assimilation is the final novel in the Axe of Iron series by J. A. Hunsinger. The author asks that you read or reread the ‘Historical Perspective’ that is located in ‘The Settlers’ which is the first volume in this series. The author’s research into the historical time frame and authentic pre-historical Indian names is irrefutable. The ‘Historical Perspective’ goes into the whole concept of the Norse sagas. Even though each book stands alone, as a reader who has enjoyed the entire series, I encourage you to purchase all three books.
As the author states in his book’s description, the first two books in this series (The Settlers and Confrontation) “dealt with the plight of the Greenland Viking settlers”.
Assimilation begins with a map showing where the settlements are and opens with two Naskapi warriors hidden from view, surveying the river valley below. The saga continues with descriptive writing that puts you the reader on the ground experiencing the mysteries of the Viking period. Smell the earth and lush dense forests, travel the routes carved out of the land by natives and take up residence in the villages and experience the hardships of this pre-historical land that we now call the Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes of Canada and the US.
Eavesdrop on Nipishish and Ingerd as they lay in each other’s arms, engaged in whispered conversation like couples do.
Join warriors in their canoes as they glide in the chill of pre-dawn morning heading toward the Haudenosaunee Village.
Stand at the rail of a Viking ship called Steed of the Sea and feel the motion of the sea as the ship heads towards a distant beach.
After the storm, the Norse society dries out and attends to the damage that Njord and Thor (the gods of weather) have forced upon them. Catch a glimpse of the smoke that curls into the calm skies over the cook fires where fish, meat and stew aroma awaits the barley bread and other leftovers that will nourish the community and reward the daily chores.
Reconnect with the characters that you have come to know like Halfdan, his dog Fang, Tostig, and experience the council meetings where men discuss their destiny, when in reality it is the gods like the “mighty Thor” who have the final say.
Strong women who cook and weave on looms by the light of seal oil lamps, teach their girls to spin fibers of wool into skeins of thread, care for the children and their men with tenderness in a world where both beauty and harshness intertwine. Communities where communication and yes even gossip are the norm, and where the outsider might find rest if assimilation is acquired.
Drumbeats of war are as common as the moon rising over the snow, so too are the tracks of snowshoes where the trappers are as important as the warriors for a civilization that exists within a fine balance between preservation and extinction. Here is a quote: “Nipishish, Kejo, and Lothar returned to their village as quickly as possible after the parley with Nesatin. Word spread faster than normal through the Nitassinan that the Anishinabeg had rejected Sachem’s peace offering regarding the people of Haldansfjord.”
I invite you to read Assimilation and discover for yourself where the legend of the Death Wind came from and what it meant for the earliest American colonies. Enjoy the detailed glossary at the end of this book which will help you understand the authentic names and terms used in this book series.
Let me take this moment to thank Author J. A. Hunsinger for his time, research and engaging storytelling that has made An Axe of Iron series possible. I sincerely hope that he will continue to write as some storytellers have one story to tell, others have infinite stories that need to be told and preserved for generations to come. The Axe of Iron novels are one of those series that time will not forget.
Cold Coffee Press/Café endorses Assimilation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J. A. Hunsinger. Assimilation is book three in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). Reviewed from a Kindle format on October 1, 2016.
Second Book In An Axe of Iron Series
In Confrontation, two calamitous events occur that pave the way for the hostile beginnings of an assimilation process between the Greenland Norse settlers and the natives of Vinland. The first mixing of cultures occurs when a woman of the Northmen, Thora, and Deskaheh the Haudenosaunee, marry. This union, accepted enthusiastically by the Northmen, opens a window into the native mind.
For all the people of this land the way is rocky and fraught with danger at every turn, but the acceptance and friendship that develops between the Northmen and the Naskapi, another native tribe, over an affair of honor, the eventual acceptance of a young boy of the Northmen by his Haudenosaunee captors, and a scenario that seems ordained by the will of the gods, makes it all begin to fall into place, as it must for the Northmen to survive.
Will this developing relationship allow the Northmen to remain in the homeland of the Naskapi, or are they doomed to failure?
The settlers must deal with that question on a daily basis. Standing in their way are uncounted numbers of indigenous peoples, the pre-historical ancestors of the contemporary Cree (Naskapi), Ojibwa (Anishinabeg), and Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians. From the outset, the warriors of these various tribes violently resisted the incursion of the tall, pale-skinned invaders. The overwhelming numbers of the native peoples in Vinland hold the fate of the Northmen in their hands. The success or failure of the settlement at Halfdansfjord hangs in the balance.
This character driven, action packed historical fiction saga continues from ‘The Settlers: An Axe Of Iron Novel’ where 163 Greenlanders and 152 Icelanders (including men, women and children) set sail with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, equipment ( tents and parts to horse drawn carts) and supplies to explore areas of what they call Vinland (North America).
Confrontation – An Axe Of Iron Novel cover with the Viking battle axe reflecting warriors gives us the first clue regarding the brutal facts of survival and desperate measures taken by men to protect their women, children and settlement with blood sweat and tears. Author J. A. Hunsinger has provided an in-depth ‘Glossary of Norse Terms’ and ‘Native Terms’ to help readers understand the people and culture.
Settling into a new land will prove challenging when the indigenous tribes who have a distaste for any fair skinned men due to those who cheated them in trade, abused them and killed their tribesmen in the past. Apart from expected interaction with the variety of native cultures, life in the new settlement is forced into daily and seasonal routines out of necessity.
Halfdan Ingolfsson and Gudbjartur Einarsson (his second in command) walk the settlement commons overseeing the duties pertaining to survival like the grueling process of filling the Kiln (furnace) with dry birch wood, burning the wood until only charcoal is left and then storing this precious commodity under the shed roof to be used for heat and cooking during the harsh winter months.
Children in the settlement (especially the boys) had to earn their place in their family and settlement by moving from boyhood into manhood by demonstrating skills taught and mirrored to them by their fathers, brothers, cousins and other men around them. Skills like hunting which was the core of survival. Unfortunately dangers exist when dealing with wild animals like a Bull Moose protecting his territory, cow and calf. Death can be mercifully quick and brutal. The burial ceremony, reverence for even the youngest hunter/warrior, tradition and spirituality (Gods Will) play a role for the dead and those who remain.
Seasons marked by the moon predict work, trade, play, marriage and birth. I quote Bjorn “as a pleasant smile curved his lips”. “Yes, it is time I thought of a mate. Another long winter comes and company in my bed would be welcome. Perhaps this is the one (as he recalls the tall blonde woman)”.
Confrontation is inevitable, warriors’ attack, prisoners taken, injuries sustained, spoils of battles and questions about their ability to live in peace brings us to the anticipation of the third book in An Axe Of Iron Series titled “Assimilation”.
J. A. Hunsinger’s series ‘An Axe Of Iron’ has been exhaustively researched and parallel the actually events as close as a historical fiction can. I recommend this series to both men and women and suggest that the series be placed on a high school/college reading list.
This reviewer is looking forward to ‘Assimilation – An Axe Of Iron Novel’ which is the third book in the series.
Cold Coffee Press Endorses Confrontation: An Axe of Iron Novel by J.A. Hunsinger’s book two in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). Reviewed by Cold Coffee Press on October 20, 2014.
First Book In The Axe Of Iron Series
The Settlers: Axe of Iron is a tale of survival, strife, love, and the quest for a new home in the face of hostile opposition. Conditions of manifest destiny propel a large contingent of Norse Greenlanders from relative security into an odyssey of exploration and settlement out over the unknown waters of the North Atlantic, to a North America of one thousand years ago, to a land they called Vinland. The chieftain, Halfdan Ingolfsson and his second-in-command, Gudbjartur Einarsson, spend a winter gathering 315 men, women, and children from the two Norse settlements on the southwestern coast of Greenland.
Early in the spring of A.D. 1008, the company sets sail aboard six large cargo ships. Five days into the voyage, in the strait between Helluland and Markland, present day Hudson Strait, a gale holds the flotilla in its grip for four long and arduous days. Halfdan decides to seek shelter in a protected bay, so they can rest, repair the storm damage, and replenish food stores lost in the storm.
During the following weeks, the settlers reap a harvest of fish and game that is the best in living memory. When hunters discover a sheltered fjord, Halfdan orders a move. Tornit hunters from far to the north venture south to hunt, and the Northmen strike up a friendship with them. The Tornit tell the newcomers much about the local area and describe coastal waters far to the south.
It is this thought-provoking insight into the geography of this new land and the dawning realization that the storm god, Njord, seems to have led his people to this place, that cause Halfdan to revise his thinking and propose a new plan to Gudbjartur and the council of ship’s captains: sail south before choosing where to build their settlement.
Genre: Historical Fiction
The Viking ship called ‘Steed of the Sea’ sailing in the cold dark waters in the foreground of tall glaciers under a foreboding sky on the cover is just the beginning.
Whether you sat under the history lessons of Columbus discovering America or are more adventurous in your approach to history and have a yearning to know who was here when Columbus arrived and where did they come from, ‘The Settlers’ is a tale that should be on a mandatory reading list in all schools in order to provoke thought and discussion on native North America in the latter half of the tenth century. Scholars can’t agree but this tale offers a new perspective about America’s indigenous people, how they viewed explorers, handled settlers and coexisted on a bountiful body of land with all its beauty and treacherous environment.
It is important to read the ‘Author’s Note’, ‘Historical Perspective’ and the ‘Glossary Of Norse Terms’ provided by the author to educate the reader. In the Author’s Note you will meet Gudbjartur Einarsson who is an Icelander, a Northman or Norseman who is second in command under Halfdan Ingolfsson. Chapter one unfolds six wooden ships carrying 163 Greenlanders and 152 Icelanders (including men, women and children) set sail with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, equipment ( tents and parts to horse drawn carts) and supplies to explore areas of what they call Vinland (North America).
Exhaustive research, realistic characters garbed in functional layers residing in a true to life story line that allows the reader to experience the sea voyage and land exploration with exquisite writing that creates a sense of being present in the story even when this first book in ‘An Axe Of Iron Novel’ series has been closed on a night stand.
Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“He whistled tunelessly to himself, the notes blown away on the wind. His eyes darted over the sea ahead and aloft at the trim of the sail and rigging. The heart of the ship pulsed through the soles of his feet, vibrated up through the steering oar and the palms of his hands, an inaudible hum that told him all was well in his world.”
“Wind driven rain stung exposed skin like bees protecting their hive.”
“Several kettles of whale blubber boiled over individual fires on the beach to render the valuable oil. The thick, rich oil, skimmed of the connective tissue – the crunchy fried meat and curled pieces of skin were a delicacy-had many uses. It was a valuable food source, preservative, and lamp fuel.”
After the journey across treacherous seas land was a welcome sight with all of its wild game like “Grunting herds of Reindeer” not to mention the predators like wolves and bears. Women and children scour rocky cliffs for seabird eggs to add to their food supply giving the kids some stress relieving egg throwing activity.
Unforeseen and inevitable injuries, herbal treatments, Viking burial ceremony amidst deep held Christian beliefs.
Attraction and a “bed of soft, furry skins nestled in the scrub brush, well protected from the north wind’. Passion, “eyes smoldered with lust” hands explore, tongues probe, “locked bodies swayed in the throes of passion”.
Hunting and cooking for survival, sewing for protective covering, animal pelts and jewelry making for trade commodity. The best and the worst of human nature revealed in a hostile new world.
Now heading into the reading of ‘Confrontation: An Axe Of Iron Novel’ book two of the series gives clarity as to the sequence of history, characters and events that readers should follow in order to understand and digest the fiction history which is laid out in great detail, humanity and historical correlation regarding much debated events.
Cold Coffee Press Endorses The Settlers – An Axe of Iron Novel book one in the fictional historical accounting of exploration and settlement of Vinland (North America). Reviewed by Cold Coffee Press on October 18, 2014.
J. A. Hunsinger’s Websites: