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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: lord of the rings, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 34
1. A Waffle About Tolkien's Horses

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Have you noticed how many of the horses in The Hobbit end up dead? And that's the children's book of that universe!

I don't know why I have suddenly been thinking about this subject, but it's one that enters my mind now and then. As a child, I had walls covered with posters of horses and horse figurines(mostly plastic) on every level surface. A normal little girl, of course. I lived in a flat, so no chance of owning one and anyway, they were expensive, so even finding an agistment paddock would have been out of the question. 

But I dreamed of horses like Shadowfax. Oh, yes!

If I've got any of the details below wrong, please forgive me, Tolkien experts, and don't write rude comments about it! It has been a while since I read these books, though it was multiple time, and I just wanted a pleasant Sunday morning wander through them.  

In The Hobbit, most of the horses are ponies. When Bilbo, Gandalf and the Dwarves leave Hobbiton, only Gandalf is tall enough to ride a full sized horse. And Tolkien gives his ponies personalities. And then he has the lot of them eaten by the goblins, when the company sleeps in that cave above the goblins' halls. 

As if that isn't enough, several of the ponies lent to them in Laketown are eaten by the dragon, 

The only ponies to survive to the end are Beorn's, lent to the Dwarves when he has hosted them and sent them on their way - and that's only because he insists on their return at the edge of the forest and lurks in bear shape to make sure it happens. He's not silly! And considering what happens to the company in the forest, it's even more sensible! Giant spiders, for starters. Beorn would know about them and other scary things in Mirkwood, even if it does also contain a colony of Elves. (But these are not aristocratic Elves like the ones in Galadriel's realm or Rivendell. They're the lower class of the Elven community.)

I suspect Tolkien got rid of the horses because he needed the Dwarves and Bilbo to be on foot when they encountered the various dangers along the way. If the goblins hadn't eaten the ponies in those dark caves, Gollum would have done so. And you can't lug them up the Lonely Mountain, can you? 

In Lord Of The Rings, he's not so awful to his equine characters - and they are characters and they mostly have names. Who can possibly forget Shadowfax, king of the Mearas? Or Bill the pony? When the hobbits' ponies are scattered at Bree, the only horse they can get is a skinny nag bought at an outrageous price from an awful man called Bill. Bill the pony has to be left behind eventually, but he is reunited with his adoring master Sam Gamgee and even gets revenge on his former owner with a kick in passing. The other ponies, following Fatty Lumpkin, Tom Bombadil's pony, are not eaten or burned by dragon fire, as they would have been in The Hobbit, when the author needed to lose themThey end up quite happily employed at the inn in Bree. 

In LOTR we meet an entire nation of horse lovers, the Riders of Rohan. Their horses are their life and soul. They are the best among ordinary horses, though there are also the Mearas, which are a truly special breed, stronger, faster, more intelligent than the regular variety. And the best of those is Shadowfax, who ends up carrying Gandalf. He is dazzlingly white and was performed by two Andalusian horses in the film version, as I was hoping and expecting. 

Horses from Rohan, black ones, are stolen from the herds for the use of the Black Riders. They are brought up in Sauron's realm, so become used to it, but I always felt sad for those animals born to the light and the plains, living in the darkness of Mordor and carrying the Black Riders - and then being swept away at the ford along with their masters. After all, they were just ordinary horses, if the best quality, not flaming-eyed demons. And I do wonder whether the nasty Black Riders were at least kind to their horses, which, after all, they had to rely on.  

The Ranger horses are special too. They aren't pretty, but they're tough. Rangers need that. And when they came to the terrifying Paths of the Dead, the Ranger horses were fine with it, while the Rohan horses had to be blindfolded, as I recall. 

Apart from those poor Black Rider horses, the only equine death was Snowmane, King Theoden's mount, who died in battle and fell, crushing his master under him. The horse got a grave and a memorial anyway. Not his fault! 

There were Tolkien elements in the SF TV series Babylon 5, in which the Black Riders were captured humans in black spaceships, unable to be separated from their "mounts". Even the villain, Bester, grieves over a beloved woman who had had that done to her. 

Interesting, isn't it, how even Tolkien's horses made their way into our culture?

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2. 10 myths about the vikings

The viking image has changed dramatically over the centuries, romanticized in the 18th and 19 century, they are now alternatively portrayed as savage and violent heathens or adventurous explorers. Stereotypes and clichés are rampant in popular culture and vikings and their influence appear to various extents, from Wagner's Ring Cycle to the comic Hägar the Horrible, and J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to Marvel's Thor. But what is actually true? Eleanor Barraclough lifts the lid on ten common viking myths.

The post 10 myths about the vikings appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Interview: Mary Hoffman

MWD Interview - Mary HoffmanMary Hoffman is the best-selling author of picture book Amazing Grace, which is currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary, as well as its six picture-book and chapter-book sequels and other acclaimed picture books such as The Colour of Home, An Angel … Continue reading ...

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4. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Paul Smith





Paul Smith - Wolverine and Roguefalcon-1










Marvel Fanfare 1Bnexus-38






Dr Strange #68B paul smith terry austin 1985X-Men_Smith_Sibal




















This week we celebrate the artwork of comics legend Paul Smith! The 600th issue of Uncanny X-Men hit the stands this week and I was very pleased to see that Smith contributed one of the variant covers for this landmark issue. X-Men was really the reason I got into comics as a kid. In fact the very first comic I picked up and read(besides the Bob’s Big Boy comics they used to give away when you ordered a kid’s meal..) was Uncanny X-Men #166 with that glorious Paul Smith cover of The X-Men battling the Brood!

A good friend of mine at the time(probably ’83/’84) had an older brother who collected comics and he had an big, old chest full of them(no bags ‘n boards, mind you..). So, when I’d go over there for a sleep-over, I’d get to rummage through his treasure trove of funny-books and then pull a few out for some late-night sleeping bag reading! Those Paul Smith issues of X-Men were truly magical, and always will be to me. There have been many great artists to work with Chris Claremont on his classic X-Men run, including legends like Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, Terry Austin, Bob Wiacek, John Romita Jr, Barry Windsor Smith, Arthur Adams, Alan Davis, Jim Lee, etc. etc, but for me, my favorite X-Men artist will always be Paul Smith. 

Smith is mostly a self-taught artist. He worked as an animator on Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings and American Pop before working at Marvel Comics in the early 1980’s. After establishing himself on titles like X-Men, Doctor Strange, and Marvel Fanfare, Smith would go on to do more independent, critically acclaimed series like Leave It To Chance and The Golden Age, both with writer James Robinson. He continues to work in mainstream comics for special projects, and cover illustrations, while also staying very busy with private commission work.

The best place to get updates on what Paul Martin Smith(PMS) is up to and to see more art is on his website here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates

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5. ‘The Last Unicorn’ Scribe Peter S. Beagle Sues His Manager for Elder Abuse And Fraud

In many ways, Beagle's story -- an artist, taken in by a con artist -- is as classic as his writing.

The post ‘The Last Unicorn’ Scribe Peter S. Beagle Sues His Manager for Elder Abuse And Fraud appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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6. A reimagined Wonderland, Middle-earth, and material world

Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Philip Pullman are three of the many great writers to come out of Oxford, whose stories are continually reimagined and enjoyed through the use of media and digital technologies. The most obvious example for Carroll's Alice in Wonderland are the many adaptations in [...]

The post A reimagined Wonderland, Middle-earth, and material world appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones

By David J. Peterson

My name is David Peterson, and I’m a conlanger. “What’s a conlanger,” you may ask? Thanks to the recent addition of the word “conlang” to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), I can now say, “Look it up!” But to save you the trouble, a conlanger is a constructed language (or conlang) maker — i.e. one who creates languages.

Language creation has been around since at least the 12th century, when the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen created her Lingua Ignota — Latin for “hidden language” — an invented vocabulary she used for writing hymns. In the centuries that followed, philosophers like Leibniz and John Wilkins would create languages that were intended to serve as grand classification systems, and idealists like L. L. Zamenhof would create languages intended to simplify international communication. All these systems focused on the basic utility of language — its ability to encode and convey meaning. That would change in the 20th century.

Tolkien: the father of modern conlanging

Before crafting the tales of Middle-Earth, J. R. R. Tolkien was a conlanger. Unlike the many known to history who came before him, though, Tolkien created languages for the pure joy of it. Professionally, he became a philologist, but he continued to work on his own languages, eventually creating his famous Lord of the Rings series as an extension of the linguistic legendarium he’d been crafting for many years. Though his written works would become more famous than his linguistic creations, his conlangs, in particular Sindarin and Quenya, would go on to inspire new generations of conlangers throughout the rest of the 20th century.

Due to the general obscurity of the practice, many conlangers remained unknown to each other until the early 1990s, when home internet use started to become more and more common. The first dedicated meeting place for conlangers, virtual or otherwise, was the Conlang Listserv (an online mailing list). Some list members came out of interest in Tolkien’s languages, as well as other large projects, like Esperanto or Lojban, but the majority came to discuss their own work, and to meet and learn from others who also created languages.

Since the founding of the original Conlang Listserv, many other meeting places have sprung up online, and through a couple of decades of regular conlanger interaction, the practice of conlanging has evolved.

Game of Thrones dragon

Conlang typology

Conlangs have been separated into different types since at least the 19th century. First came the philosophical languages, as discussed, then the auxiliary languages like Esperanto (also known as auxlangs), but with Tolkien emerged a new type of language: the artistic language, or artlang. At its most basic, an artlang is a conlang created for artistic purposes, but that broad definition includes many wildly divergent languages (compare Denis Moskowitz’s Rikchik to Sylvia Sotomayor’s Kēlen). Finer-grained distinctions became necessary as the community grew, and so emerged the naturalistic conlang.

This is where the languages of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Syfy’s Defiance come in. The languages I’ve created for the shows I work on come out of the naturalist tradition. The goal with a naturalistic conlang is to create a language that’s as realistic as possible. The realism of a language is grounded in the reality (fictional or otherwise) of its speakers. If the speakers are more or less human (or humanoid) and are intended to be portrayed in a realistic fashion, then their language should be as similar as possible to a natural language (i.e. a language that exists here on Earth, like Spanish, Tagalog, or Cham).

The natural languages we speak are large, but also redundant and imperfect in a uniquely human way. Conlangers have gotten pretty good at emulating them over the years, usually employing one of two different approaches. The first, which I call the façade method, is to create a language that looks like a modern natural language by replicating the various features of a modern natural language. Thus, if English has irregular plurals, such as mouse~mice, then the conlang will have irregular plurals, too, by targeting certain nouns and making their plurals irregular in some way.

The historical method: making sense of irregular plurals in Valyrian

Game of Thrones DaenerysA contrasting approach is the method that Tolkien pioneered called the historical method. With the historical method, an ancestor language called a proto-language is created, and the desired language is evolved from it, via simulated linguistic evolution. The process takes a lot longer, but in some ways it’s simpler, since irregularities will naturally emerge, rather than having to be created by hand. For example, in Game of Thrones, the High Valyrian language Daenerys speaks differs from the Low Valyrian the residents of Slaver’s Bay speak. In fact, the latter evolved from the former. As the language evolved, it produced some natural irregularities. Consider the following nouns and their plurals from the Valyrian spoken in Slaver’s Bay:

hubre “goat” hubres “goats”
dare “queen” dari “queens”
aeske “master” aeske “masters”

Given that the singular forms all end in ‘e’, one has to say at least two of the plurals presented are irregular. But why the arbitrary differences in the plural forms? It turns out it’s because the three nouns with identical singular terminations used to have very different forms in the older language, High Valyrian, as shown below:

hobres “goat” hobresse “goats”
dāria “queen” dārī “queens”
āeksio “master” āeksia “masters”

Each of these alternations is quite regular in High Valyrian. In the simulated history, a series of sound changes which simplified the ends of words produced identical terminations for each of the three words in the singular, leaving later speakers having to memorize which have irregular plurals and which regular.

Conceptualizing time

Simulated evolution applies to both grammar and the lexicon, as well. For example, natural languages often derive terminology for abstract concepts metaphorically from terminology for concrete concepts. Time, for instance, is an abstract concept that is frequently discussed using spatial terminology. How it’s done differs from language to language. In English, events that occur later in time occur after the present (where “after” derives from “aft,” a word meaning “behind”), and events that occur earlier in time occur before the present. Thus, time is conceptualized as a being standing in the present, facing the past, with the future behind them.

In Irathient, a language I created for Syfy’s Defiance, time is conceptualized vertically, rather than horizontally. The word for “after”, in temporal terms, is shei, which derives from a word meaning “above”; “before”, on the other hand, is ur, which also means “below” or “underneath”. The general metaphor that the future is up and the past is down bears out throughout the rest of the language, where if one wanted to say “Go back to what you were saying before”, the literal Irathient translation would be “Go down to what you were saying underneath”.

Ultimately, what one hears on screen sounds and feels like a natural language, regardless of whether or not one knows the work that went on behind the scenes. Since the prop used on screen is a language, though, rather than a costume or a piece of the set, the words can be recorded and analyzed at any time. Consequently, a conlang needs to be real in a way that a throne or a 700 foot wall of ice does not.

It’s still extraordinary to me that in less than 25 years, we came from a time when many conlangers were not aware that there were other conlangers to a time where our work is able to add to the authenticity of some of the best productions the big and small screen have to offer. The addition of the word “conlang” to the OED is a fitting capper to an unbelievable quarter century.

David J. Peterson is a language creator who works on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Syfy’s Defiance, and Syfy’s Dominion. You can find him on Twitter at @Dedalvs or on Tumblr.

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Images: Game of Thrones Season 3 – Dragon Shadow Wallpaper and Game of Thrones Season 3 - Daenerys Wallpaper. ©2014 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The post How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Photo

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9. Elves and Orcs and Things

The pencil drawing for this one is here, because sometimes it looks better in simple line.

And just because I couldn't make up my mind,
here is the elf in various autumn orc hunting colors.

Earlier this year I played a game mod for Lord of the Rings which had a real good feel to it.  Reminded me a lot of the books.  You could even be an orc although I ran into trouble.  Playing as "Spuds" I was not inclined to do orcish things.  Savage orcs turned on me, and the race of men wouldn't accept me.  Stay in the middle and I'd be killed!  So Spuds did the only next best thing.  Join a group of roaming heroes to fight against the darkness that was coming upon Middle Earth!  (Okay I embellished a bit on the end but hey!  It did lead to some crazy drawings, of which these are a few.)

I had some more serious Lord of the Rings drawings, but I think they got buried somewhere.

In other news... I'm jumping between paintings, illustration covers, and finishing my studio.  More coming soon.

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10. This ‘Lord of the Rings’ Crew Pic Reveals Something Important About 1970s Animation

What can we learn about the animation industry from this photo of the animation crew from "Lord of the Rings"?

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11. Accelerated Reader - What's it all about? Cecilia Busby

Those of you who have children at secondary school, or are teachers or librarians, may have come across a new(ish) scheme called Accelerated Reader.

Administered in the UK by Rennaissance Learning, Accelerated Reader is a system that grades books, suggests appropriate reading levels and then monitors pupils' reading by giving them a multiple choice quiz on the book they've just read. The system analyses the quiz responses to show teachers whether the pupil has read the book, and what aspects of it they found difficult (e.g., vocabulary, or higher level comprehension).

If they fly through a couple of quizes, they are rewarded with a higher reading band. They can also collect points according to how long the book was that they read - leading to a total score of words read, and the accolade of 'word millionaire' when they get to the magic 1,000,000 words. They are however expected to stay within their bands - books read outside them, although allowed, do not count for rewards and incentives. For a slower reader, expected to progress at a certain number of books per term, or for a competitive reader, determined to get to the millionaire mark first, this more or less prohibits reading outside the given bands.

According to the National Literacy Trust, the use of Accelerated Reader in schools does actually get more pupils reading, and increases the proportion of pupils in the difficult teenage years who say they enjoy reading, will admit to a favourite book, and read widely across genres.

My daughter's school has just started using the scheme and the number of pupils taking books out of the school library has tripled compared with the same time last year. It's hard to argue with that kind of boost to pupils' interest in books and there really does seem to be a noticeable encouragement to read through the motivation of online quizes and rewards, particularly for boys.

What interests me, though, is the banding structure and the rationale behind it. AR uses a computer programme which scans the books and then analyses them for vocabulary and syntax (proportion of complex sentences). The range of banding for the books in a secondary school library is roughly from about 3 to about 11 or 12 for the very hardest books (for a rough idea of what these mean - R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books are about 3; Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov has an AR level of 11.1 )
AR level 3.0
AR level 11.1
More complex sentences and more advanced vocabulary result in a higher banding: and this more or less seems to work in terms of what one thinks of as appropriate progression - nobody is capable of reading Karamazov before they're capable of reading Goosebumps.

But there are two things I think are seriously problematic with the underlying assumptions of this scheme.

The first is a prescription that I think is wrong-headed: that we progress in reading in a straight line - that when we are capable of reading Dostoevsky, we are 'beyond' R.L. Stine. In fact, I think there are plenty of people who might go back and forth between the two and get different pleasures out of each. AR schemes do talk about letting pupils read 'below' their level as occasional 'comfort reads' - but this is presented as a kind of reversion. It's a bit like the idea that we all sometimes need to watch crap telly and eat donuts. It won't enrich our lives but it will give us some 'down-time'. For me, the idea that you are 'slumming it' by reading the 'easier' book is a pernicious one. The lower-level books are not just donuts, they may have all sorts of fabulous and enriching things to say to us as readers - they just do it in a different, though not necessarily less crafted or effective, way.

The second assumption is that the 'straight line' of reading progression is entirely about syntax and vocabulary. And this is where the truly jaw-dropping anomalies of AR banding become apparent. Using the AR website to check the relative banding of books for her, I was amazed to discover that Alan Garner's Owl Service is banded at 3.7. By contrast, Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants is 4.3. And Captain Underpants and the Revolting Radioacive Robo-Boxers (presumably because of the number of multi-syllable words) is a whopping 5.3.

AR level 4.3
AR level 3.7
Bear in mind that the AR scheme suggests pupils are given relatively narrow bands to choose from - my daughter was started on 4.5–4.9. She was too high for The Owl Service, although she couldn't yet read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, at 6.3. If she waited to be able to read the Weirdstone, however, she would be too high to read its sequel, The Moon of Gomrath, which is 5.4.

Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur (a fabulous retelling of the Arthur legend from the point of view of a young girl co-opted into helping the bard Merlin, who is presented as a kind of early 'spin-doctor') is 5.6, so she'd reach that well before she was able to read Reeves' knockabout books for younger readers, the Buster Bayliss series (Custardfinger is rated 6.3).

Meanwhile, she is lucky that her favourite author, Marcus Sedgwick, uses relatively simple sentences, as that means that many of his books are in her range (My Swordhand is Singing, a complex tale of vampires set in medieval Eastern Europe, is 4.9). However, she's missed out on his Floodland, which is 3.9, and it won't be long before she's progressed to the point where all of Sedgwick's novels will have to be 'comfort reads', as Kevin-Crossley Holland's magnificent Arthur books already are (4.2–4.3). Never mind - because she can always stretch herself with Daisy Meadows; Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy is 5.4.

AR level 5.4
AR level 5.0
I could go on - but here is one final one to ponder. Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Brilliant is a whopping 7.5. This means you won't be able to progress to it till you are too high for The Lord of The Rings (6.1), and in fact you'd be in the same ball-park band as The Silmarillion at 7.9.

The computer analysis used to grade AR books clearly doesn't read them - it processes them as strings of words. The more important aspects of books - the ideas, the plot twists, the characters, the emotions, the metaphorical language - all of this is entirely missed. Yet this is most of what makes a book enjoyable, memorable, heart-breaking, what touches or thrills you as a reader. I am immensely saddened by the idea that whole swathes of teenagers are going to flick past The Owl Service and fail to pick it off the shelf of the school library because it has a black sticker on it (easy) rather than green or purple (harder, higher, more worthy).

Accelerated Reader is beloved of Ofsted, because it produces quantifiable results and signs of 'progress'. It certainly seems to be getting more pupils reading, and excited about getting their rewards and stickers - but it's encouraging at the same time a very quantitative approach to what reading is, and how we should do it. According to the National Literacy Trust survey, an extra 7% of pupils using the scheme are prepared to say they enjoy reading compared with those that don't use it. I wonder if that's an achievement worth celebrating if 100% of those pupils now think of reading as a goal-oriented activity with 'difficult' vocabulary being the measure of value?

Cecilia Busby writes fantasy adventures for children aged 7-12 as C.J. Busby. Her latest book, Dragon Amber, was published in September by Templar.



"Great fun - made me chortle!" (Diana Wynne Jones on Frogspell)

"A rift-hoping romp with great wit, charm and pace" (Frances Hardinge on Deep Amber)

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12. Hello, From Your Favorite Nonexistant Blogger

How have you all been?

Here's a random squirrel gif

Aside from catching a miserable cold and a 'flu pretty nearly at the same time, I've been good.

Pretty much just like this

Not too much has been happening.  I have an agent list going for a manuscript.  Once I get an acceptance on that....


...I'll let you know.

We watched the Lord of the Rings this week.

Screaming, crying, perfect storm...

I always forget what an emotional rollercoaster that is.  I cry every single time over every shattering event that occurs, and over the characters:  Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, FARAMIR!!! Eowyn, Eomer, Arwen, Theoden.... If there is someone I can weep for, I weep, and prodigiously.


Fun fact:  One of our bestest friends has never read the books nor seen the movies.  She has only seen the last Hobbit movie (and let's be honest, friends.  Peter Jackson could have done those so, so much better.  What was wrong with keeping it just a bit more to the book?!), but anyway, we have told her frequently that LotR was WAY better than the Hobbit.  So FINALLY we got her to watch the trilogy with us... the extended edition, of course.  REAL fans watch only the extended LotR.


Not only did she cry as prodigiously as the rest of us (and this is a girl who rarely, if ever, cries over shows), but she now wants a cape and has been obsessively pinning Lord of the Rings on Pinterest and is reading the books now.


So I feel like we accomplished something this weekend.

In the meantime, I'm going to going the way I'm going and hope I figure out how to make more time in a single day.  I need a TARDIS and some timey-wimey magic, I think.

You always suspected. :-)

Until my next emergence...

le moi


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13. Whoo hoo! Happy Valentine's Day (next week)!!!

So guess what?
No reason for this, except it make me LOL

I've been writing queries!  (Shameless call out to authors who write killer queries - if you'd like to take a gander and tell me what you think about it, hollah!  I'd love the input.)  My BIG plan is to start submitting to agents.  This was my BIG plan last year, but that fell through, so THIS year the BIG PLAN will happen.

I guarantee it.


I've use this gif before, but I love it, so suck it

I have a list of agents THIS BIG!


So prayers are much appreciated.

Other than that, nothing's happening around here except fandoms.


I don't know what happened.  Once upon a time my only fandom was the Lord of the Rings.  Than, BAM.  Avengers! Doctor Who! Leverage! Flashpoint! Grimm! Prison Break! Sherlock! Psych! (And a couple others that aren't exactly "fandoms," but shows I like.  Like Sleepy Hollow.  Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.  Those shows.)

Other than THAT, I feel like I live a very boring life.




But boring.

I did make some beautiful corsages at work yesterday.  That was fun.  I made a set - a boutonniere and a corsage - that reminded me of My Little Pony, because of the pink and purple.  This one:


I have been reading some.


I read ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter:


The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt:


 I feel like I need to work on my author platform.

I feel like I need more time.


Anyhoozle, that's my life in a nutshell right now.  Wish me luck for Valentine's Day.  I'm going to be a snarling purple minion by the end of next week, after working a six-day work week.


Kay, that's all.

Cute Sammy Winchester

God bless!!

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14. HAPPY 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884 (ad finitum, ad nauseam) DAY!!!




This is a monumental day in history, being 3/14/15, which are the first five digits in Pi.  This won't happen for another hundred years, people.  I don't know 'bout you, but I'm gonna stay up late (it's Lent, see, so I have to wait until Sunday.  Better late than never!) and have a cheery toast to celebrate.  
Happy Pi Day, y'all!

Of separate note, I was double-tagged by blogger Miss Melody Muffin of The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls for a Lord of the Rings tag, and Bella at To Say Nothing of Reality for a Liebster Award tag, which I have received numerous times and just ain't gonna do exactly as dictated.  But do them I shall, after my own fashion.


Le Freakin' Rules: (There's always rules, aren't there? Boring! But must needs be done.)
Link back to the blogger who nominated you - Miss Melody Muffin
Answer questions 
- Can do, good buddy!
Tag some of your own fellow Tolkienknights!


1. How were you first introduced to LotR/TH and was it love at first sight/read?
I read The Hobbit when I was 10? Maybe 12?  I don't even remember.  But I loved Bilbo, and once you read The Hobbit you need to read about MORE hobbits, so I read the Lord of the Rings soon after.  Of COURSE it was love at first read.  I mean, hobbits! Duh.

2. If you could meet the actors who portray the characters in the movies, would you?
Uh, yeah.  "Duh. Stupid."
Shortcut to Mushrooms

3. What is your favorite credit song from LotR/TH?
Into The West.  I sang it for a singing class, I loved it so much.

4. The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit - which is your favorite? *evil laugh* (And no, you don't actually have to decide. I'm merciful like that. *magnanimous smile*)
Books or movies?  Bookwise, they are both fabulous and beautiful, and I love how they each start off so simply and crescendo into epic fantasies that break your heart.

Movies, the Lord of the Rings.  Hands freakin' down.  Don't get me started on that mess of a trilogy that cast the perfect Bilbo and utterly ruined the rest of the story.  I mean, a trilogy?  Really?  Who needed the elves?  Who needed them!?  Bilbo could have carried that entire thing on his shoulders (and he would have only needed one movie to do it. Phffhffhfththtt).

5. Who is your favorite all-around character?
Bookwise and moviewise, I always loved Frodo and Sam.  Such bold, brave hobbits!
Faramir is my absolute favorite, though.  He is so gentle and so forgiving, and I love that about him.  (Recently I read the books again, and Merry has joined the list of my top favorites.  He was always getting left behind!  Poor little fella.)

6. What is your opinion on Boromir?
I'm the sort of person who hears someone badmouth Boromir and turn on that person in a flash of fangs and fury.  Do not speak ill of Boromir!!  I may have to hunt you down and shoot you full of arrows. (I kid, I kid.  But seriously...)

7. How many times have you watched the movies/read the books?
I can't even tell you.  I never thought to keep track.

8. What book is your favorite?
The Return of the King.  *Epicness intensifies*

9. Who is your favorite female character (other than your answer to question #5)?
Eowyn.  She just wants so badly to have her life mean something, and I understand that.  I understand that a lot.  She feels trapped and useless, and her life is just one duty after another.  Poor thing.

10. Who is your favorite male character (other than your answer to question #5)?
Other than Faramir?  Pffffth!  I'm adding him anyway.
Faramir, Boromir, Aragorn, Eomer.  Boom.

11. Which of the movies, in your opinion, has the best ending?
The Return of the King.  "What can you seeeeeeeeeee.... On the horizoooooooooon!"

Imma taggin' no one. Cause I'm a rebel like that.


RULES! (Because you know I'm all about those rules, 'bout those rule, 'bout those rules, just kiddin'.)
Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you - Bella
Answer the eleven question that the blogger gives you - Okey dokie Loki!
Give eleven random facts about yourself - So that's how the hacker figured out my passwords!
Nominate eleven other bloggers and let them know.

My Eleven Random Facts:

1.)  I sent out a query on March 11, 2015.  (Querying agents is scary, fyi.)
2.)  I am the kind of writer who writes best when working on more than one story at once - like, I tend to write 2-3 stories at the same time, switching from one to the other with the rapidity of a baleen whale gulping krill.  It's my superpower.
3.)  I have no idea how quickly whales gulp krill.  It just sounded good.
4.)  My other superpower is being able to sing stanzas of one song and switch to another song between breaths, again with the rapidity of a baleen whale gulping krill.
5.)  I still don't know how fast that is.  I'm too lazy to look it up.
6.)  I have an unhealthy adoration of Pixar movies.
7.)  I am not ashamed to admit I watch an inordinate amount of cartoons and/or animated films.  I sometimes feel they contain more depth and emotion than your regular old movie.
8.)  I love cheese.  I have to be careful when shopping because I can spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at cheese and picking out far too much than I can eat in a week before becoming sensible and only choosing the top ten two.
9.)  I like Taylor Swift.
10.)  I FREAKIN' ADORED AGENT CARTER!! Who else has watched that show?!  Hands up, Marvel fans! I see you lurking out there in the blogosphere.  Join the par-tay!
11.)  I checked out seven books from the library on Saturday, four I hadn't read before and three of the Attolia series in case I needed a "consolation prize" after reading the other four.  Two so far weren't bad, but the third was a real bellyflop.  Crossing my fingers that the fourth one doesn't make me fall asleep.  If it does, I got Eugenides to back me up.


Do you like mint?
I adore mint.  It is the bestest, for reals.

Have you ever been on a motor boat?

Do you like Cinnamon in your Cocoa?

Have you seen The Court Jester?
Stole this from Panda.  Yea, verily, yea!

Do you write?
Do you breathe?

Firefox, Chrome, or the Big E?
I laugh and point at the Big E.  I tend to go with Firefox these days.  When it starts to disappoint, I'll go back to Chrome.

Do you read comic books?

Do you like ice skating?

Do you like strawberries and scones?

Fantasy or Action Adventure?

Both.  But never mind the bread.  (Kudos if you get that reference.)

Movies or TV shows?
Both.  But never mind the bread.  (Maybe TV shows a bit more than movies.)

Smeagol is Freeeeeeeeeeeeee!


For your edification:

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KEEP SCROLLING! KEEP SCROLLING! KEEP SCROLLING!  288745799932237495519122195190342445230753513380685680735446499512720317448719 540397610730806026990625807602029273145525207807991418429063884437349968145827 337207266391767020118300464819000241308350884658415214899127610651374153943565 721139032857491876909441370209051703148777346165287984823533829726013611098451 484182380812054099612527458088109948697221612852489742555551607637167505489617 301680961380381191436114399210638005083214098760459930932485102516829446726066 613815174571255975495358023998314698220361338082849935670557552471290274539776 214049318201465800802156653606776550878380430413431059180460680083459113664083 488740800574127258670479225831912741573908091438313845642415094084913391809684 025116399193685322555733896695374902662092326131885589158083245557194845387562 878612885900410600607374650140262782402734696252821717494158233174923968353013 617865367376064216677813773995100658952887742766263684183068019080460984980946 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KEEP SCROLLING! KEEP SCROLLING! KEEP SCROLLING!  335941690865007193280401716384064498787175375678118532132840821657110754952829 497493621460821558320568723218557406516109627487437509809223021160998263303391 546949464449100451528092508974507489676032409076898365294065792019831526541065 813682379198409064571246894847020935776119313998024681340520039478194986620262 400890215016616381353838151503773502296607462795291038406868556907015751662419 298724448271942933100485482445458071889763300323252582158128032746796200281476 243182862217105435289834820827345168018613171959332471107466222850871066611770 346535283957762599774467218571581612641114327179434788599089280848669491413909 771673690027775850268664654056595039486784111079011610400857274456293842549416 759460548711723594642910585090995021495879311219613590831588262068233215615308 683373083817327932819698387508708348388046388478441884003184712697454370937329 836240287519792080232187874488287284372737801782700805878241074935751488997891 173974612932035108143270325140903048746226294234432757126008664250833318768865 075642927160552528954492153765175149219636718104943531785838345386525565664065 725136357506435323650893679043170259787817719031486796384082881020946149007971 513771709906195496964007086766710233004867263147551053723175711432231741141168 062286420638890621019235522354671166213749969326932173704310598722503945657492 461697826097025335947502091383667377289443869640002811034402608471289900074680 776484408871134135250336787731679770937277868216611786534423173226463784769787 514433209534000165069213054647689098505020301504488083426184520873053097318949 291642532293361243151430657826407028389840984160295030924189712097160164926561 341343342229882790992178604267981245728534580133826099587717811310216734025656 274400729683406619848067661580502169183372368039902793160642043681207990031626 444914619021945822969099212278855394878353830564686488165556229431567312827439 082645061162894280350166133669782405177015521962652272545585073864058529983037 918035043287670380925216790757120406123759632768567484507915114731344000183257 034492090971243580944790046249431345502890068064870429353403743603262582053579 011839564908935434510134296961754524957396062149028872893279252069653538639644 322538832752249960598697475988232991626354597332444516375533437749292899058117 578635555562693742691094711700216541171821975051983178713710605106379555858890 556885288798908475091576463907469361988150781468526213325247383765119299015610 918977792200870579339646382749068069876916819749236562422608715417610043060890 437797667851966189140414492527048088197149880154205778700652159400928977760133 075684796699295543365613984773806039436889588764605498387147896848280538470173 087111776115966350503997934386933911978988710915654170913308260764740630571141 109883938809548143782847452883836807941888434266622207043872288741394780101772 139228191199236540551639589347426395382482960903690028835932774585506080131798 840716244656399794827578365019551422155133928197822698427863839167971509126241 054872570092407004548848569295044811073808799654748156891393538094347455697212 891982717702076661360248958146811913361412125878389557735719498631721084439890 142394849665925173138817160266326193106536653504147307080441493916936326237376 777709585031325599009576273195730864804246770121232702053374266705314244820816 813030639737873664248367253983748769098060218278578621651273856351329014890350 988327061725893257536399397905572917516009761545904477169226580631511102803843 601737474215247608515209901615858231257159073342173657626714239047827958728150 509563309280266845893764964977023297364131906098274063353108979246424213458374 090116939196425045912881340349881063540088759682005440836438651661788055760895 689672753153808194207733259791727843762566118431989102500749182908647514979400 316070384554946538594602745244746681231468794344161099333890899263841184742525 704457251745932573898956518571657596148126602031079762825416559050604247911401 695790033835657486925280074302562341949828646791447632277400552946090394017753 633565547193100017543004750471914489984104001586794617924161001645471655133707 407395026044276953855383439755054887109978520540117516974758134492607943368954 378322117245068734423198987884412854206474280973562580706698310697993526069339 213568588139121480735472846322778490808700246777630360555123238665629517885371 967303463470122293958160679250915321748903084088651606111901149844341235012464 692802880599613428351188471544977127847336176628506216977871774382436256571177 945006447771837022199910669502165675764404499794076503799995484500271066598781 3603802314126836905783190460792

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15. Professionalism (It's not what you think it is)

By: Hannah Moskowitz

This post has nothing to do with writing and absolutely everything to do with being a writer.

The stereotype of a writer--the middle-aged man pounding feverishly at a typewriter, cigarette in his mouth, sending hard-copy manuscripts to his agent and protesting the change of every word--has yet to catch up with the reality of what being a writer entails today.

We are not locked in our attics alone. We are not even the romantic writers of the '20s, drinking coffee and discussing literature. We are a legion of overworked, underwashed normals, pounding away at our laptops and shooing the kids to the next room.

And more importantly, we are not alone.

If you are reading this blog, you have obviously already met at least one other writer (hello there.) Chances are, I'm not the only one. Agent, editor, and writer blogs, facebook, forums like Verla Kay and Absolute Write, and God, above all Twitter, mean that, at the very least, most writers are at least a friend of a friend of yours. The term 'networking' is so appropriate here, because, in actuality, we--writers, publishing professionals, book bloggers--are a net. A web of interconnected people.

We know the same people. The truth is, this world feels very big sometimes, and God knows everyone is talking about writing a novel, but when it comes down to it--the people who are really out there, querying, editing, submitting, representing, accepting, rejecting, publishing, copyediting, waiting...well, the truth is, there aren't that many of us after all.

Which is why the act of being a professional writer has come to mean much more than it used to. Fifty years ago, all most writers had to do was avoid getting arrested and not respond to bad reviews.

You have a much bigger job to undertake. And it's stressful, and it's scary, but it can also be one of the most rewarding parts of this job. Somedays, my writing is absolutely shitty, and the house is a mess, and I'm crying because I can't find my socks, but I have 557 blog followers and I said something funny on Twitter today, so at least this day isn't totally for the birds.

You may think that I am the worst possible person ever to talk about how to be a professional. I'm loud and I'm obnoxious and I had to edit about ten cuss words out of this post so I didn't offend Nathan's sensibilities.

Yep. That's me.
But I'm hoping all that will make me easier to listen to, because when people think 'professional,' they a lot of the time think boring, sanitized, safe. And that's not who you have to
be. I'm living proof over here. And I knew from the start that I was taking a big risk, but I hoped that people would find me interesting and remember me.

It's worked pretty well so far. And that, kittens, is the real reason you want to get out there and put on your professional face. So that people will remember you.

Now that I'm done babbling, here are some guidelines. How to be a successful professional writer, by yours truly. And these are not big, life-changing rules. These are just tricks. Tricky little tricks.

--GET ON TWITTER. I don't care what your objections are. I objected too. But it is hands-down the best way to connect with people you would never have the balls to approach any other way. You can follow someone, which causes them no pain or trouble whatsoever, and you can talk to them in a completely neutral, undemanding way.

--READ ABOUT BOOKS. What do Hunger Games, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code, and a hell of a lot of other books have in common? Answer: I haven't read them.

I'm not proud. But I know I don't have nearly enough time to read as much as I should, so I make a point of reading *about* books I wish I had time to read. Know enough about popular books to be able to fake your way through a conversation. I can discuss Twilight with the best of 'em.


54 Comments on Professionalism (It's not what you think it is), last added: 10/17/2010
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16. Thousands of Protesters Fight to Keep The Hobbit in New Zealand

New Zealand activists are fighting to keep filming for the upcoming The Hobbit adaptation in that country, the same place where Peter Jackson filmed the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. According to these passionate protesters, “New Zealand is Middle Earth.”

The Guardian reports that Warner Bros. executives will decide this week if the shoot will be in New Zealand.  Prime Minister John Keys will personally oversee the negotiations, hoping that producers will make a decision in his country’s favor.

The article adds: “A dispute over pay and conditions led producers to hint that they might move filming to another country. Carrying banners proclaiming ‘New Zealand is Middle Earth’ and ‘We Love Hobbits,’ a reported 2-3,000 people gathered in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, and other cities such as Auckland and Christchurch in advance of a visit by executives from the studio Warner Bros.”


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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17. This Week in Books 3/18/11

The Books! This Week!

First up, one of my blog readers is an editor in Egypt, and as there aren't many/any agents in Egypt (but there could be), she's hoping to work as a virtual intern at a literary agency to learn more about the trade. I know we're all rooting for Egypt after the revolution, any agents out there who could help her out

There was a very interesting discussion over at All Indie Publishing triggered by the always-interesting Zoe Winters. The topic: Do 99 Cent E-books Attract the Wrong Kind of Reader? Now, at first blush, your answer might be, as John Ochwat put it on Twitter, "If readers are wrong, I don't want to be right." But Zoe's thoughts are worth a read in full. Does the price affect a reader's loyalty and the perception of value? (via OtherLisa)

Is all publicity really good publicity? Well, according to a study spotted by The Millions: It all depends. For established writers, bad publicity can hurt sales. For new writers: Bad publicity actually helps.

Very smart editor Cheryl Klein has self-published a guide to writing called SECOND SIGHT, definitely check that out!

The New York Observer took an anthropological look at the "Assisterati," the collective of extremely smart assistants who are reading many of your queries and performing essential tasks behind the scenes at agencies. And yes, the "Assisterati" Twitter account was started just a week later.

What do you get when you take an author's first novel, which is the first sale by her agent and the first acquisition by her editor? Well, in this case you get THE TIGER'S WIFE by Tea Obreht, currently the toast of the literary scene.

In writing and publishing advice news, guest blogging at Pimp My Novel, Brad Philips offers nine ways to give a better reading, Finslippy gives advice on attending conferences, and agent Rachelle Gardner had three great publishing mythbusting posts here, here and here.

And in so wrong it's right news... real life re-creations of romance novel covers. (via Stephen Shankland)

This week in the Forums, March Madness is so on, can social media self-promotion be a bad thing, an authors for Japan benefit auction, the Great Gatsby mansion is going to be

74 Comments on This Week in Books 3/18/11, last added: 3/21/2011
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18. All around fantasy and a little about reality

Fantasy Book Reviews

Picture Books

1) Where The Wild Things Are -This picture book by Maurice Sendak and  a very popular book. I highly recommend it if you did not read it yet. The book is a classic and has been for years.  It was published originally in 1963 and won the 1964 Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book of the year. When a boy named Max misbehaves his mother sends him to his room where his fantastic journey begins. After his journey he comes home to discover that barely any time had passed even though his trip seemed to take place a very long time. This book is a wonderful read not only for children but adults as well. It explores the possibilities of other worlds and so much more.

2) The Egg- This picture book by M.P Robertson is less known, but also a great read. It was published in 2001 by Dial books. It is about a boy named George, who one day discovers a huge egg under one of his barn chickens. When the egg is warmed and hatches a dragon is born. It is then when George's adventure begins. His adventure takes him for a special training and eventually to another world where dragons live. The book has amazing illustrations and a great fantasy story line that any child or adult will enjoy. It is a great read for everyone. Make sure to look for this book and to share it with your children in the classroom or by a sizzling fire.

3) Sweep Dreams- This picture book came out in 2005. It is by Nancy Willard and Illustrated by Mary Grandpre.  It was published by Little Brown and company. It is about a man who fell in love with a magical broom. The mystery started when the lady at the register had no idea where this broom was from. Since it had no cost on it she gave it to the man as a gift. The man never used the broom to sweep and this made her sick. As soon as started using her to sweep the floors and etc.. the broom became very happy and danced outside in the street.  A bad man saw it and kidnapped her. As the book goes on many magical adventures take place. I believe children will get right into the story. The book has all kinds of wonderful pictures that almost everyone will enjoy. Please pick up a copy.

Middle Readers

1) The Phantom Tollbooth- I read this wonderful book back in elementary school. It was written Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer who I had the pleasure to meet and talk to a few months ago. It came out from Random House in 1961. I love this classical book that teaches many things to children. It is about a boy named Milo who is bored of everything in his life. One day a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room. Milo drives through it in his toy car because he has nothing better to do. This leads him to a different world. It is here that Milo's whole view of life changes. he takes on several amazing quests and meets fantastic creatures including a ticking watch dog named Tock.  I loved this classic fantasy book as a young lad and I truly believe your son or daughter will as well.

2) The Book of Time Trilogy- I got a chance to read this Trilogy on my trip to FL. You can look back at my older posts to read more about it. It includes three books: The Book of Time, The Gate of Days and The Circle of Gold. They are by Gullaume Prevost and were translated by William Rodarm. The books  originally published by Gallimard Jeunnesse in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The English- language translations were published by Arthur A. Levine books in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Cheryl Klein was the wonderful editor who worked on this wonderful Fantasy Trilogy.  The books are about Faulkner family. They could be any ordinary family on the outside, but they have many secrets. Sam Faulkner a 13 year old boy discovers a sec

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19. The Fellowship of the Rings Extended Edition in Theaters Tonight!

See The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition in theaters for one night only TONIGHT, June 14! The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers will show on June 21, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on June 28.

From the press release:

The events will begin with a new and personal introduction for each film from The Lord of the Rings™ director Peter Jackson captured from the set of his current film, and The Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, and will be immediately followed by the Extended Edition feature presentations which altogether include nearly three hours of additional feature footage carefully selected by Peter Jackson.

For more information and to purchase tickets:

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20. Brian Wood writing Lord of the Rings comic for LoTR: War in the North

brian wood heads to middle earth 20110706105709175 Brian Wood writing Lord of the Rings comic for LoTR: War in the North
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a new action-RPG set in Middle Earth that takes place during the War of the Rings but concerned with the action in non southern front places. LIke Eriador and Rhovanion.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

That’s right! Carn Dûm, baby!

Distributed along with the game will be a 2 part comic book! Produced by DC it will be written by Brian Wood! This is totally exciting, but to get it you must pre-order the game at Toys R ‘Us for part 1, or buy it through Amazon, with part 2.

According to WB, gamers will gain access to parts 1 and 2 of the comic by pre-ordering War in the North at Toys R’ Us, while Amazon is offering part 2 only. There’s currently no word where the comic will be made available, though DC’s ComiXology app is a logical choice. There’s also no word on a specific release date, pricing for the comic for those without pre-orders, or whether the series consists of more than these two chapters.

For this part, Wood explained his part of it on his blog:

THAT SAID it was a fun job. I wish I could have written more than the 16 pages of script I did, but like I said, its not up to me. I love LOTR and nothing would make me happier than to write a regular comic for general release. But as far as I know, and I’m only going off the info in the above links, this is a digital-only incentive promo comic available to people who pre-order the video game from Amazon or Toys R Us.

We would give anything to see Brian Wood write a comic book called DAIN OF THE IRON HILLS.


Colleen Doran would draw either of those in a heart beat,

What would be your favored LoTR spin-off comic?

5 Comments on Brian Wood writing Lord of the Rings comic for LoTR: War in the North, last added: 7/8/2011
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21. Family Histories on the Side

The raw satellite imagery shown in these image...

The raw satellite imagery shown in these images was obtain from NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by www.terraprints.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking a day away from usual activities helps to restore a semblance of order to one’s life. Perspective is gained. Appreciation is elevated. New knowledge filters through the mind to lodge in memories.

Yesterday was a day of exploration into places unknown and challenging facts known. For me, it was also a time to take away snippets of useful information; the kind used in a twisted kind of way for story elements and character development. Those are the kind of relaxed and fun days that begin with one purpose and turn out as gold mines. Also, the experience felt much like going home to my dad’s family for the day.

We met up with friends, Sister’s distant cousins, in a small-town restaurant about an hour south of our locale. We had a nice lunch before heading south again to their home in an even smaller town. Our entire purpose for going on this jaunt was so that Sister could shoot the eclipse in an area where she could get good water-reflection shots.

During our scouting adventure, I was taken to places I’d never seen before; places that had escaped my notice when I’d lived in the area twenty years ago. As well, the cousins constantly pointed out places that related to their family histories.

“So and so built that ranch. Who is the latest owner, honey?” Cousin #2 asked as she pointed to the left to a grouping of buildings amid lush pastures. “The original barn’s gone now, of course.”

Gravel roads, dust flying from under the wheels of passing ranch trucks and cars, we made our way from reservoir to reservoir; each with points of interest. On the first we found swans that had been introduced to the waterways. The second, though smaller, was far more serene, more relaxing. Native ducks, muskrats, gulls, all played in the placid water. Further into the hills, we found rock chucks guarding their homes and new calves cavorting among adults.

At last we wound through forested hills up to MacDonald Lake, nestled in the Mission Range; a smaller lake than it used to be, only because it isn’t allowed to fill up the way it used to years ago. The deep teal, crystalline waters, surrounded by pine-covered slopes, beckoned to us. Trails radiated from its sides for the explorer who would challenge grizzlies in the area for prime fishing spots.

From the south-end approach I could only envision one scenario. I saw a scene straight out of 0 Comments on Family Histories on the Side as of 1/1/1900

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22. Family Histories on the Side

The raw satellite imagery shown in these image...

The raw satellite imagery shown in these images was obtain from NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by www.terraprints.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking a day away from usual activities helps to restore a semblance of order to one’s life. Perspective is gained. Appreciation is elevated. New knowledge filters through the mind to lodge in memories.

Yesterday was a day of exploration into places unknown and challenging facts known. For me, it was also a time to take away snippets of useful information; the kind used in a twisted kind of way for story elements and character development. Those are the kind of relaxed and fun days that begin with one purpose and turn out as gold mines. Also, the experience felt much like going home to my dad’s family for the day.

We met up with friends, Sister’s distant cousins, in a small-town restaurant about an hour south of our locale. We had a nice lunch before heading south again to their home in an even smaller town. Our entire purpose for going on this jaunt was so that Sister could shoot the eclipse in an area where she could get good water-reflection shots.

During our scouting adventure, I was taken to places I’d never seen before; places that had escaped my notice when I’d lived in the area twenty years ago. As well, the cousins constantly pointed out places that related to their family histories.

“So and so built that ranch. Who is the latest owner, honey?” Cousin #2 asked as she pointed to the left to a grouping of buildings amid lush pastures. “The original barn’s gone now, of course.”

Gravel roads, dust flying from under the wheels of passing ranch trucks and cars, we made our way from reservoir to reservoir; each with points of interest. On the first we found swans that had been introduced to the waterways. The second, though smaller, was far more serene, more relaxing. Native ducks, muskrats, gulls, all played in the placid water. Further into the hills, we found rock chucks guarding their homes and new calves cavorting among adults.

At last we wound through forested hills up to MacDonald Lake, nestled in the Mission Range; a smaller lake than it used to be, only because it isn’t allowed to fill up the way it used to years ago. The deep teal, crystalline waters, surrounded by pine-covered slopes, beckoned to us. Trails radiated from its sides for the explorer who would challenge grizzlies in the area for prime fishing spots.

From the south-end approach I could only envision one scenario. I saw a scene straight out of 0 Comments on Family Histories on the Side as of 1/1/1900

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23. Which Door Would You Choose?

You find yourself in front of seven identical doors. A voice from above tells you, "These seven doors lead to seven different places: Narnia, Neverland, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Camelot, Middle Earth, and Westeros." Which door do you go through? Why that door? What happens?

I would go through the door to Wonderland without hesitation. I have always loved Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and count it as one of my top ten books of all time. The character of Alice and I have a lot in common, beginning with our curiosity and continuing with our adoration of cats, a thirst for knowledge, and sheer determination. I would love to wander through Wonderland and interact with different characters from the books, especially the White Rabbit, the Gryphon, and the Cheshire Cat. I'd rescue the hedgehogs from the croquet games and delight in the chess game. Plus, I really love the hallway of doors in Wonderland. 

Read more at my blog, Bildungsroman. 

Which door would YOU choose?

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24. March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!

doom iron man basketball March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!Once again, it’s that time of year again!  Sports geeks speculate who will make the Big Dance, who got snubbed, and who will be the Cinderella Team this year.  Billions of dollars are wagered on the outcomes, as casual fans contemplate the 68 teams and fill out numerous brackets.

It’s not uncommon among comics fans to wonder, “Who would win in a fight, Forbush Man or ‘Mazing Man?”  (Neither.  Ma Hunkel would break it up and have them both over to the JSA mansion of cookies and milk.)  So it’s not inconceivable that fans would take that simple idea, and turn it into a tournament.  Who do you seed in each bracket?  How do you arrange the divisions?  Do you mix and match franchises and tribes?

Well, we here at Stately Beat Manor offer the following brackets as a community service, especially to fans of Gonzaga, New Mexico, and Kentucky.  (Your lack of faith was disturbing.  >choke<)


Let’s start with the big comic bracket: Mix March Madness over at ComicMix.com!  Those crazy kids are at it again, this year adding a new wrinkle!  You can BUY votes!  All money goes to The Hero Initiative, so put your money where your mouth is! 300 webcomics have been reduced to eight, and it’s getting competitive!  (This is the perfect opportunity to check out some new webcomics!)

The latest bracket (as of March 24, when I started this article):

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Ava’a Demon
Game 1 Details
Questionable Content
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Winner of 1
Game 5 Details
Winner of 2
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Winner of 5
Game 7 Details
Winner of 6
Game 2 Details
Sandra and Woo
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Girls With Slingshots
Game 3 Details
Bittersweet Candy Bowl
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Winner of 3
Game 6 Details
Winner of 4
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A Redtail’s Dream
Game 4 Details
RomanticallY Apocalyptic
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The final is open for voting!  Click to view, and to vote!

Comics Should Be Good, an awesome blog over at Comic Book Resources, has suspended their annual superhero tournament in favor of notable story runs by creators!  Is Simone’s Secret Six better than Claremon’ts New Mutants?   Byrne’s Fantastic Four or Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme?  The Elite Eight (is that a superhero team?) can be voted on here!  (X-Men vs. X-Men!)

Comics Should Be Good 2013 Bracket32 761x1024 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!

Cosmic Comix and Toys, a store in Cantonsville, Maryland, is hosting a female-centric tournament, and the final is a humdinger!  (One which I don’t think we’ve ever seen in comics, but which would be amazing if done right!)

CosmicMadness2013 1024x777 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!


cereal bracket 1024x776 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!The Victory Formation does a different tournament each year.  This year, the fourth, is based all on Cereal!  The Elite Eight are in competition!

The #1 seeds?
Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch!
My fave, Lucky Charms, is a number two seed.
Discontinued Foods Bracket2 1024x475 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!
In a related tournament, there’s one for discontinued foods.  Which would you like to see return to store shelves?  (Me, chocolate Jell-O.)


star wars bracket March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!Princess Leia or Padme Amidala?  Tarkin or Count Dooku?  Boba Fett or Jango Fett?
Those are the match-ups over at the “This is madness” Star Wars character tournament over at Star Wars.com!  The first round so far has been marked by blow outs!
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Ooh!  I like the triads!  Population Go matches Western characters on the left, Asian characters on the left!
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Once again, TheOneRing.net presents their tournament, this year concentrating on geography.  Top seeds: Galadriel, Smaug, The One Ring, and Balin.  The Elite Eight are here!
io9 TV bracket 1024x576 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!
Wow….  IO9′s March TV Madness brackets are crazy!  Some would make for interesting crossovers, like ALF meeting Kirk!  Top seeds: Star Trek (TOS), X-Files, Doctor Who, The Twilight Zone!  The final has been announced!  And decided!  Not as close as some might expect!
(And in the separate, Whedon Invitational Tournament…
Buffy beat Dollhouse 81-19, while Firefly beat Angel 86-14.  Buffy got smacked down 64-36 in the final.)
ToB 2013 Brackets March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!
The Dallas Morning News continues their annual Tournament of Books.  No, I haven’t read any of them (and haven’t heard of most), but we welcome all geeks here, and they win the prize for best design!
 franchises bracket semi finals March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!Movie franchises!  Toy Story!  Star Wars! (I suspect that the judges ignored the prequels…)
This could easily be expanded into four brackets, separating the franchises by number of films made.  Add in some art films, animation, pre-war films, and it could get interesting!
(There was also a Horror tournament last October.)

tv couples bracket20130318 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!

Awwww… TV couples!  Inside Pulse lets readers play match-maker with their massive tournament!  I’m hoping for Bobby and J.R. Ewing to win!  Third round voting can be done here.


Toys and Games

game board 2013 March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!Tired of basketball?  BoardGameGeek has a tournament for games!  Top seed: Twilight Struggle.   The four finalists can be voted on here.  Lots of upsets!

lego minifig March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!

From Bricks To Bothans members took minifig heroes and villains from LEGO, created mechas for each to use, then started a Battle Royale!  The winners have been announced, but I recommend you peruse the postings!  (I just wish one could click on each character… there are some cool builds!)



Geek bracket March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!
16 technology geniuses match wits with 16 math and science brainiacs for the title of “Greatest Geek“!  Bill Gates (!) and Albert Einstein are the top seeds.
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Once again, the Consumerist holds their Worst Company in America tournament, featuring the return of last year’s winner, EA!  They had a strong showing this year, especially after bumbling the much-anticipated launch of SimCity!  Will they make it to the final?  Facebook has many “dis-likes”, but at least their social networking system works!
Unlike EA, it’s quite easy to access Consumerist’s website, so vote early!
Store Wars 2013 Big Bracket March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!Which retailer do you patronize?  Dappered.com lists Banana Republic and J. Crew are the top seeds.  (Amazon, 7th?  No Wal-Mart?  Macy’s #4?)

And finally, which style do you prefer?

enter the tournament of brackets.jpg March Mayhem at Stately Beat Manor!


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25. Fantasy Who Would Win?

Fantasy Books Festival

Who would win in a fight between your favorite fantasy characters?

I know what MY favorite thing about fantasy books is: fantasy books often have the most exciting, epic, earth-shattering battles. In worlds where anything is possible, magical creatures, logic-defying supernatural abilities, and even nature itself can turn any old argument into a knock-down, drag-out fight to save the universe. It’s so exciting!

Fight scenes in fantasy books always leave me wondering what I would do if I had the abilities or strengths that the characters have. Would I try to save the world, too? Or would I go on silly adventures instead? Probably a little bit of both!

Today’s Fantasy Books Festival post is all about special abilities. Everyone loves a good collision of fantasy universes

, so do a little imagining yourself: who would win in a fight between these fictional characters?
  • Maleficent (from the Kingdom Keepers series) or Gandalf (from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series)
  • Annabeth Chase (from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians
 series) or Hermione Granger (from the Harry Potter series)?
  • Dragonet Clay (from the Wings of Fire
  •  series) or Eustace (from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) . . . as a dragon?

    Who are your winners? Why? What are your suggestions for fantasy face-offs? Share in the Comments below! 

    Till next time,

    image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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