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Posts Tagged ‘The Hobbit’

Busy today tidying up (though in truth I can only make a small dent in the tidying that needs doing). As I slide books back into their slots on my bookshelves, I noticed the great number of stories that have swords or blades in them.

My favorite swords are the lightsabers of the Jedi knights of Star War’s fame, King Arthur’s Excalibur, and the famed sword/s of The Lord of the Rings. There is always the debate whether Arthur had one or two swords. One pulled from the stone and a different blade given to him by the Lady of the Lake seems to indicate two different swords, but there are other takes on these mythical events.

As for The Lord of the Rings’ sword/s, I refer to Narsil, the blade broken into shards during battle. Isildur, son of the king, used the hilt-shard to slice the finger with the One Ring from the hand of Sauron. The Ring takes quite a journey, eventually ending up in the spindly hands of Golem, then in the pocket of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. From there, the Ring is placed in the care of Frodo, and finally is destroyed in the lava of Mount Doom. Now, back to the Shards of Narsil. These broken bits of sword, are re-formed into a new blade which is renamed, Anduril – The Flame of the West, and given to Aragorn to use. And yes, JRR Tolkien geek that I am, I didn’t need to research these names!

I found an interesting list of 15 Legendary Swords which not only includes my favorites, but a dozen more. By the way, I find the inclusion of William Wallace’s sword a novel idea. I wonder if it would have been on the list prior to Mel Gibson’s movie?

Skean copy In my fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, the blade mentioned in the title is a boot knife, though I do have Beck use a fighting blade, too. As I work on the sequel, I’m toying with the idea of introducing a magical sword — but I worry it’s a cliché’. What do you think?

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I write this to you as I prepare to board a plane back to the USA after spending 2 weeks in Scotland. Truly, this lovely country feels like it’s the home of hobbits, wizards, goblins, and more.

But even as I leave the island that gave us J.R.R. Tolkien, I cannot help but wish all I see a Happy Hobbit Day – celebrated on September 22, birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

For all you Tolkien fans, take a look at my Hobbits Day post from 2011, and enjoy breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper in honor of hobbits on this most wonderful day!

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Romance is a sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur.” wrote JRR Tolkien. Though one usually doesn’t think of Tolkien when one thinks of Valentine’s Day and romance, there are love stories woven through many of his tales. With a few exceptions, those love stories are intense, long-enduring, require suffering or sacrifice on the part of the couples, and have tragic endings.

“What a terrible thing to bring up on Valentine’s Day!” you might say. And though those passionate and ill-fated love stories abound in Tolkien’s fiction, he also gave us the quiet love of the hobbits, Samwise Gamgee and Rose Cotton. I think it is no accident that hobbits (Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin) were central to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and it is through their eyes that the reader views much of the action.

Most of us aren’t cut out for dangerous adventures, battles with gigantic creatures, and walking for months through perilous lands over-run by armed enemies. Just like most of us aren’t cut out for romances filled with drama, terrible tragedies, and doom. Instead, we appreciate the simple happiness that comes from finding someone who cares for us and for whom we care.

There’s a wonderful comfort in the ordinariness of Sam and Rose. They love each other with the sort of love that we modern-day humans can identify with, and perhaps discover in our own lives:

Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.” – JRR Tolkien, the last lines of The Return of the King.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers. And may your life be filled with love.

For another Tolkien-inspired post, visit: http://ljagilamplighter.com/2013/02/13/wrights-writing-corner-guest-blog-vonnie-winslow-crist-on-writing-adventures/

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Animals and Nature are usually woven into my stories, poems, non-fiction, and art. I think my interest in Nature and all her creatures started when I was young. My Granny, who lived on property that joined my parent’s backyard, gardened in the early morning and was kind to the neighborhood strays and neglected animals. As a child, I could usually be found tagging along with her.

My family vacationed for a week each summer from the time I was 5 in a cabin in the West Virginia mountains. Deer, raccoons, opossums, snakes, bears, crayfish, minnows, salamanders, bats, and birds were plentiful and often encountered. Unfortunately, so were mice – but that’s a different tale!

I’ve always enjoyed growing flowers, vegetables, and berries. I’ve always loved watching wild animals and having pets. In fact, since I’m short, have never been thin, and quite enjoy a well-prepared meal, I think I’d have made a rather good (though tall at 5’2”) hobbit!

In the beginning of The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien describes the day Gandalf stopped by Bilbo’s home to warn of the coming dwarves thus: “one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous…” More green – that sounds lovely to me.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien writes that hobbits are fond of gardening. I especially like the picture painted by this quote from The Fellowship of the Ring (and I can close my eyes and see the image filmed by Peter Jackson for the movie):

Inside Bag End, Bilbo and Gandalf were sitting at the open window of a small room looking out west on to the garden. The late afternoon was bright and peaceful. The flowers glowed red and golden: snap-dragons and sunflowers, and nasturtians trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in at the round windows.

‘How bright your garden looks!’ said Gandalf.

‘Yes,’ said Bilbo. ‘I am very fond indeed of it, and of all the dear old Shire…’”

 I gaze out my window at flowers red and golden: roses, snapdragons, and butterfly weed, and at nasturtiums trailing over a brick wall, and scratch my dog behind her ear. I know I am very fond indeed of Nature, all her creatures, and of living at Wood’s Edge. In both of my short story collections, Owl Light and The Greener Forest, as well as my young adult novel, The Enchanted Skean, animals and plants play important roles. And I suspect, they will always have a special place in my creative work.

For those who’d like to listen to an excerpt from “On a Midwinter’s Eve,” the 1st tale in Owl Light, it’s the reading that begins about 14 minutes into the September 2012 “Nature and Animals” Broad Pod from Broad Universe: http://broadpod.posterous.com/september-2012-animals-and-nature In the excerpt, an owl, wolf, and the winter woods play a role. The complete story has even more animals in it.

So as Bilbo’s much anticipated Birthday Party approaches, I urge you to celebrate Nature and read (or listen to) a story featuring some of her creatures.

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Today is the date of the Long-Expected Party for Bilbo Baggins. JRR Tolkien fans are shedding their shoes and preparing to party on this most auspicious of days in Tolkien Week. Lovers of the Middle-earth cycle know that this is not only the day Bilbo was born, but 78 years later, Frodo Baggins was born on September 22.

Brown Man 300 B&W For those wanting to celebrate Hobbit Day in The Shire manner, a party with friends and family in attendance should be held. A celebration with dancing, fireworks, tasty foods, and plenty of cold beverages held near a worthy tree is the best. Of course, no Birthday Tree can equal the magnificent tree of The Fellowship of The Ring – but even the tiniest sproutling will serve. And with a pinch of elven magic it, too, might grow to be a marvelous tree worthy of Treebeard’s notice.

Along with the feasting, watching one of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films is a given. Reading an excerpt from The Hobbit is another way to commemorate Bilbo, Frodo, and all other hobbits. Needless to say, both activities should be done in a hobbit-like manner: barefoot!

As for me, I shall raise a mug under the stars and salute JRR Tolkien and his son & editor, Christopher JR Tolkien. “Thanks for the stories,” I shall say. Then, return to working on my own fantasy fiction. But not before sharing a brief quote from my most favorites of books:

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag-End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton…Then Thursday, September 22nd, actually dawned. The sun got up, the clouds vanished, flags were unfurled and the fun began..My dear People, began Bilbo, rising in his place. ‘Hear! Hear! Hear!’ they shouted, and kept on repeating it in chorus, seeming reluctant to follow their own advice. Bilbo left his place and went and stood on a chair under the illuminated tree. The light of the lanterns fell on his beaming face; the golden buttons shone on his embroidered silk waistcoat…” [The Fellowship of the Ring: A Long-Expected Party].

Note: the illustration is from my book of fantasy tales, The Greener Forest. http://coldmoonpress.com/quickbuy.html

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Bonshaw Tower & Estate

Several people have asked me of late  why I chose The Greener Forest as the title of my first book of fantasy short stories. The title actually comes from a trip I took to Scotland with my mom, 3 sisters, and a bus full of distant cousins in 2009. These cousins are all associated with the Scottish Clan Irwin Association — and yes, if you go back a few generations, one of my ancestors was the American Revolutionary War hero, General William Irvine.

Drum Castle

The trip included visits to numerous historical and cultural locations: Edinburgh, Isle of Iona, Culloden, Fort George, Aboyne Highland Games, Urquhart Castle along Loch Ness, Glencoe, Aberdeen City Hall, Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument…

One of the most unique things about this trip was a tour of Bonshaw Tower & Estate in the border area led by present laird, Christopher Irving, and a tea hosted by his lovely wife, Claire. The second very special part of the trip was a tour of Drum Castle & Gardens given by David Irvine, 26th Baron of Drum and Chief of the Name and Lady Carolyn.

Drum Castle Greener Trees

It was while visiting Drum Castle, that I wandered into the woods near the small stone Drum Chapel. This little bit of Irvine woods seemed greener and more steeped in myth & Faerie than almost anywhere else I’d ever been. I was quite certain that if no one else was about, a hobbit or elf or other shy Tolkien creature might pop his head around the side of a tree and motion for me to follow them into the even greener depths of the forest. Or I’d stroll between an arch of branches and find myself in Narnia chatting with a faun.

More Drum Castle trees

And that’s when I decided the book of fantasy stories I wanted to put together should be titled: The Greener Forest.

My stories are certainly not equal to those of JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis, but I nevertheless try to put a little of the same magic into them. Readers, if you like fantasy, I hope you’ll give The Greener Forest a look. Writers, if you have the good fortune to travel — keep your ears and eyes open. You never know when inspiration will be standing in front of you. 

 And writers, remember Cold Moon Press: http://coldmoonpress.com  is actively looking for new authors. What do they want? Buy my book and you’ll see!

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 At November’s FaeryCon, I had the honor of meeting and chatting briefly with illustrator extraordinaire, Michael Hague. An admirer of his work for many years, I’d brought along 2 books with hopes for an autograph. Not only did he sign, The Little Mermaid, but he sketched in ballpoint pen a wonderful mermaid and fish on the first pages of the book. His sketching style, quiet manner, and kind smile reminded me of Pop (my grandfather) who used to spend countless hours drawing with me when I was a child. I must admit to being a little misty-eyed when I thanked Michael and turned to leave.

“Wait, isn’t that Tolkien’s World?” Michael asked pointing at the unsigned book I held.

 “Yes,” I responded, and began to explain I didn’t want to take too much of his time since there were other fans waiting in line for autographs. Michael waved his hand in the air, then proceeded to sketch a roaring dragon’s head opposite his painting of “Smaug the Magnificent” from The Hobbit.

 Born in the Year of the Dragon, those legendary creatures remain my favorite fabulous beastie. And in 2010, not only did I manage to place my dragon story, “Weathermaker,” in Dragon’s Lure: Legends of a New Age and became the proud owner of a Michael Hague dragon sketch – but I just learned that a recent review of Dragon’s Lure features a paragraph about “Weathermaker.”

So thanks to BSC Review and their book reviewer. For those who’d like to take a peek at the review: http://tinyurl.com/review-of-dragons-lure (Paragraph #4 focuses on “Weathermaker”)

 And now, to begin a dragon sketch of my own!

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