Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The Lord of the Rings’

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/

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

There’s more than meets the eye (and ear) in names. When naming their children (or pets) people often look through baby-naming books or on-line listings of names for their meanings. Some writers use those same naming guides, some pick the names for their characters and places based on sound, and some select names based on the images those names conjure up when read.

In the work of JRR Tolkien, we know that characters named Samwise, Merry, and Pippin will be likable. And when we hear Grima Wormtongue or Sauron the Great, Eye of the Dark Tower we expect evil. Who wouldn’t like to visit such pleasant sounding venues as Rivendell and The Shire? But when we hear the names Mirkwood and Mount Doom, we expect them to be dangerous places.

I sometimes use those baby-naming books for characters and places. The meanings and country (or people) where the name originated are important. I also use names from various myths and legends. Archaic words from a thesaurus or an old dictionary are another fabulous source for original sounding names. One of my favorite ways of gathering names is to jot down unusually named roads, towns, points of interest, etc. as I travel.

For my upcoming high fantasy Young Adult novel, Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir, in addition to my usual name sources, I combined bits and pieces of the names of family members and friends. For example, Stacy and Jason became Stason (one of the Hunters), John and Karen became the Joren Canyon, Wendy and Bob became the Wenbo River, and another Hunter was named Kelto (from Kelly and Tom). I even re-arranged the letters of some family members’ names to come up with places. Example: Timothy became the Mothyti River. And, one of my favorites, a type of goblin that runs in packs whose description might make my friend Denise (Dee) laugh – became the Grindee.

I’m not sure readers care where the names of characters and places come from. I suspect the source of naming is less important than creating believable, breathing, three-dimensional characters and places that can be almost seen, heard, smelled, and touched. But writers have their quirks – and meaningful naming is mine!

Today’s Tolkien trivia is based on names. 1- What was the creature Gollum’s original name? Yes, that’s an easy one. Here’s something a bit more challenging. 2- What was author JRR Tolkien’s full name? Tolkien buffs got that quickly, too. So, let’s try a more challenging question. 3- What are the names of Bilbo Baggins’ parents?

Answers to Tolkien trivia:

1- Smeagol.

2- John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. As a child, he went by his 1st middle name, Ronald.

3- If you look at the Baggins of Hobbiton family chart in Appendix C – Family Trees of The Lord of the Rings, you’ll see Bilbo’s parents were Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took. [The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994, p. 1074].

Read Full Post »

I was invited to participate in Darkover this past Thanksgiving weekend in Timonium, Maryland. Wow! What a wonderful con. I was part of several panels including substituting at the last moment on the “Animal Sidekicks” panel for a couple of writers who had planes/rides to catch.

I love adding animal sidekicks in my stories. Per the advice of Dr. John Flynn, who taught “Writing Science Fiction” as part of my Masters in Professional Writing Degree Program & served as my advisor for 2 Independent Studies on writing science fiction & fantasy prose, I try my hardest to avoid cats, dogs, and horses. Now, it’s not because I don’t love cats, dogs, and horses — but rather because they’re the most common animals used.

 So what critters have I used as sidekicks or important characters in my stories? In “Assassins,” I use a singing opossum – it’s genetically altered, hence the singing and glow-in-the-dark eyes. In “Birdling,” a robin is an important character. I must admit to using a one-eyed dog and three-legged cat in “Appleheads,” but they’re really a goblin and bogle, so I’m not sure if that counts. In “Toad,” I use a toad. (That was hard to guess, I know!) In “Henkie’s Fiddle,” a calf-shaped buggane is a sidekick. In “Weathermaker,” a Chinese dragon has a starring role. In a novel I’m pecking away at, I use rats and pigeons as sidekicks. I’m also currently at work on several stories where owls are either a sidekick or necessary character. Then, there’s this tale where telepathic beetles bond with the protagonist…

The advice I gave on the Darkover panel (with a nod to Dr. Flynn) is still good — “Think outside the box.” Cats, dogs, and horses make fabulous sidekicks and characters, but so do spiders (EB White’s “Charlotte’s Web”), cockroaches (Suzanne Collins’ “The Underland Chronicles”), beavers (CS Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”), polar bears (Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass”), snakes (JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter”), and even trees (JRR Tolkien’s Treebeard in “Lord of the Rings”).

I think readers like to read about cats, dogs, and horses — but they probably would like a pinch of emu, lizard, and lion, too.

Till next I blog: Happy reading! Happy writing! And thanks so much to the folks at Darkover for inviting me.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

 It’s the day after JRR Tolkien’s birthday. Yesternight, though the wind whooshed through skeletal rather than fully-leafed trees in the nearby woods, I thought of Bilbo’s birthday party tree: “There was an especially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right inside it, and stood proudly near one end… Lanterns were hung on all its branches” (LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, p26). For on the evening of January 3, 2011 at my home, Wood’s Edge, stars twinkled between the tree branches and the forest seemed alight with distant lanterns. And I thought about the debt I owed Tolkien.

I was a girl when first I read: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle…This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins…I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us” (The Hobbit, p11-12). And I quite understood the need for further explanation, since I had to often explain the various little folks I spotted while hiding beneath droopy pines and sprawling forsythias.

A few of the elderly adults with whom I shared my stories and sketches of these creatures, smiled a knowing smile and whispered, “Do what you love.” Most grown-ups discouraged such foolishness, and suggested I find more realistic and practical subject matter for my artistic endeavors. “No one will pay to read such crazy stuff” and “Medical illustration, now there’s something you can make money at” were oftentimes what I’d be told by well-meaning relations. Thus, it has taken me a lifetime to feel comfortable in my skin. And I quite admire those lucky writers and illustrators who’ve managed to embrace from the beginning their fantastical leanings.

So yester-evening as twilight crept from the shadowy places beneath the maples, I raised a mug of spiced tea to Tolkien. “Happy Birthday, to a man of great imagination who opened the doors to Middle-earth for us all,” I said.

The Greener Forest 300 dpi cover From childhood, Tolkien and his fellow fantasy writers encouraged my imagination’s wanderings, and for that, I owe them a great debt. Tolkien wrote,“Not all those who wander are lost,” and finally as silver hairs twine amongst the brown, I not only understand Tolkien’s words, but have the courage to embrace my own worlds and the creatures who inhabit them.

And so I invite you, dear readers, to sample a few of those tales in my books: The Greener Forest and Owl Light. And for you in the UK, here’s the link.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »