9-Year Blogiversary + Giveaway!

Nine years ago, on September 9th, 2013, I created my first blog — namely this one!

It’s true I have another one and also that my posting has been nearly nonexistent on both of them this last year, but I still have a huge soft spot for this li’l original blog of mine! So I love to celebrate when it has another “birthday” and today is no exception.

To celebrate, I’m giving away a hardcover copy of In the Region of the Summer Stars by Stephen R. Lawhead, book one in the Eirlandia trilogy! (US only; sorry INT peeps! Scroll down for the info.)

There are a couple of reasons why I chose this book.

One is that, over on my book blog today, I posted a review for the second and third books in the Eirlandia series. So you can CHECK THAT OUT if you like! (And if you haven’t read my review for the first book, which I’m giving away today, you can do so HERE.)

The other reason is . . . Well . . . This little Road of a Writer blog was my first official “internet home” where I put down roots in the blogging community and started sharing my writing journey. It’s . . . been a long and winding road, and sometimes I need to remind myself that the journey is more than the destination (that elusive destination). But more than that, sometimes, like Bilbo Baggins, I have a hankering for a cozy, homey place when the adventure is a little much. That homey place for Bilbo is his Hobbit hole at Bag End in the Shire with the kettle singing. That homey place of the internet for me is this little blog. And one of the homey places I’ve discovered more recently in literature is Eirlandia. It sings to my heart and makes me long to live there, among the rolling green hills and the noble people and the land of wonder. So . . . it felt fitting to share a little bit of that ancient-Ireland home-on-the-page with some other reader, here on the ninth anniversary of my internet home’s foundations being laid.

(And, of course, giving away presents on one’s birthday — or in this case, one’s blog’s birthday — is a time-honored Hobbit tradition, speaking of Bilbo and giveaways.)

To all my readers . . . Thank you for dropping by my internet home! It’s always an honor. ❤

And happy blogiversary to my li’l ol’ blog!

GIVEAWAY

EDIT: Giveaway closed. Congrats to Sarah P.! Thanks, everyone, for entering!

To enter to win, drop by the Rafflecopter at this link!

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

(Giveaway is open 9/9/22-9/14/22. US only. Must be 18 or have parental permission. One winner will be chosen at random. Winner will be contacted by email and will have one week to respond before another winner is chosen. This giveaway is for one (1) hardcover copy of the book IN THE REGION OF THE SUMMER STARS by Stephen R. Lawhead, is hosted by Deborah O’Carroll, and is not affiliated with the author, WordPress, or any other entity. Not responsible for packages lost in the mail.)

Thanks so much for reading and for celebrating with me!

8-Year Blogiversary + Random Search Terms Answered

Happy 8-year blogiversary to my li’l ol’ blog!

Eight years seems so long ago and yet at the same time it feels like I’ve been blogging even longer . . . just not much recently. XD Still, 350 posts (351 now!) isn’t bad.

Anyway, I had plans to do something fun/exciting for this but haven’t really had the time, sooo this is just a quick post so it won’t go unmarked. 😛

For fun, here are some random search terms that have led to my site and some answers to them!

  • howl’s moving castle head cold — I’m proud of whoever searched this and pleased it brought you here. XD
  • forgive yourself thunderstorm — Yes, please do, thunderstorm.
  • good words for watsup — Um. Maybe how’s it going? Or, I don’t know, maybe … what’s up?
  • many happy returns tolkien — Yes indeed. But only on January 3rd.
  • dastan and tamina fanfiction — I don’t have any but I ADORE Prince of Persia, so.
  • Various searches for Marvel characters (mostly Loki or Hawkeye) and/or fanfiction, doubtless leading to random Marvel dreams I wrote down and posted here in the past, before it was cool probably. *awkward laughter*
  • Some questions about different Melanie Dickerson books and characters. O_O
  • Various searches for Ren: The Girl with the Mark and whether there will be sequels. (*SOBS* Sadly, no. T_T The original show is so good, though! Despite the cliffhanger.)
  • diana wynne jones where to start — Start with Howl’s Moving Castle! I have spoken.
  • pictures of perfectionism — Oh dear. I … I … feel called out. *nervous laugh*
  • types of mentor in fantasy movies — Well, not just in movies but definitely some mentors in this post
  • power of three word count diana wynne jones — Now I want to know the answer to this too. Well, a random page in my copy of Power of Three has 241 words on it, and at 328 pages, that averages to 79,048 words. Give or take. Probably take, since chapter beginnings/endings have fewer words …
  • the owl of kedrans wood — Who was searching my book’s title? O_O Sorry to disappoint but it’s not published at this point. *more awkward laughter* At least I’m over half done writing the third book in the series??
  • diana wynne jones quotes — Ooh, try this post! Great DWJ quotes there.
  • amazon — … Well then. That’s awkward.
  • sherlock holmes consulting detective checklist form — I find myself fascinated by this search and how in the world it could have led here. XD

So there is your dose of humor/randomness for the day.

Happy 8th birthday, Road of a Writer. *blows out virtual candles*

And thanks, dear readers, for coming along with me so far!

Have a nice Thursday. Cheers. ❤

Writing Wrapup (2020)

Well, I haven’t blogged regularly at ALL in quite awhile, but I wanted to post a wrapup of my writerly accomplishments this last year, if only so I’ll be able to look back on it one day.

It was definitely a slow year of writing, for me. I have difficulty writing when I’m stressed, so between that and spending a good deal of extra time on my copyediting business, the words were rather fewer than usual. But at least some writing happened!

2020 WRITING (ISH) ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Writing

  • Total words written: 76,160 (not my usual 100K+ but ah well)
  • 53K of Tare/Kedran’s Wood books (starting book 3 for NaNo plus some edits on book 2)
  • 12K of Operation Foxtail
  • 11K on short stories — The Secret Piano (hopefully coming soon to a newsletter?), and three serial episodes of Girls, Spies, and Other Things the Faeries Stole. (I had written the first episode in 2019. The second was posted last January. So I have two more written, and one more planned, which would total 5 episodes. I hope to share them on here when I get the chance!)
  • I also did some plotting and editing on various works, including making some exciting breakthroughs in various books!

Blogging

I didn’t have home internet for the last 8 months of the year so any blogging that actually got done . . . I’ll take it. 😛

Faves:

Instagram

(My top 9 most popular Instagram pics of 2020. Lots of googly-eyed books, some Tolkien, Cress, and of course that time I cosplayed as Selene Ravenwood back in February.)

I also focused more on my Instagram in this last year, largely due to said issue of a lack of internet aside from my phone. I can’t really blog on my phone but I can Instagram on it, sooo…

  • 285 Bookstagram posts (daily posts aside from a couple of hiatus months and breaks when I got busy)
  • Hit 800 followers
  • I finally did more with themes, even seasonal ones (which was fun) — and aaall the flowers!
  • Finally made a Linktree and some highlights. XD *is almost getting the hang of this Instagramming thing*

Copyediting Business

(Some of the books I had the honor of copyediting last year.)
  • Words copyedited or beta-read in 2020: 2.9 million words
  • Novels/novellas copyedited: 15
  • Short stories copyedited: 11
  • Beta projects (for friends etc.): 8
  • (Curious to know more about my freelance copyediting? Info is here! :))

Miscellaneous

  • Writing journal pages: 136
  • Won my 11th NaNoWriMo and 20th Camp NaNo (actually did two camp sessions this year)
  • Attended Hutchmoot: Homebound online (delightful), as well as a one-day writing conference in January, and read 6 books on writing
  • Sketched my character Teague
  • Was “in print” for the second time (I mean, just like the first time, it was a private bindup collection for authors of the Modern Bard blog stories, so it’s not like it’s… available? But it was still neat to see A Night in the Life of Glassman printed in a real book, personal collection though it may be!)
  • Set new word-sprinting records during November
  • Got a new laptop (after 9 years of writing adventures with my first laptop)
(2020 November writing stats)

So there is a brief (?) look at my 2020 in writing! Although the wordcount was less than I’d hoped, and I didn’t finish any novels (two-thirds into both Operation Foxtail and Kedran’s Wood 3), it still wasn’t a bad writing year, apparently. I’m quite happy with a lot of these things. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed that! Thanks for reading — and let me know if there’s a writing-ish accomplishment you’re proud of from last year!

Christopher Tolkien: A Tribute (#FantasyMonth)

It’s Fantasy Month, which seems a good time to talk about the most important fantasy tales in my life.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s works have enriched my life, but I also owe a great debt to his son, Christopher Tolkien; I was saddened to hear he passed on from this world earlier this year.

I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They’re some of my favorite books of all time. But I lived in The Silmarillion.

And The Silmarillion, although it was not in the form J. R. R. Tolkien would have wished, would never have become the land of my youth were it not for Christopher Tolkien editing and publishing it and so many of his father’s other writings and drafts.

The Silmarillion wouldn’t have got far without Christopher. At least, not to us readers.

I breathed the air and walked the lands of Beleriand and Valinor and beyond, alongside the Elves and Men and other heroes. And it shaped me in many ways. I am incredibly grateful to Christopher for sharing these worlds with us.

Backing up slightly. It began with the forging of the great Rings . . . or rather, not unnaturally, it began when I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I remember listening to The Lord of the Rings for the first time, on audiobook, when I was ten years old (having read The Hobbit sometime before), and I was enchanted.

Which is why, soon after, I got The Silmarillion, for Christmas I think, and so my further immersion in Tolkien’s rich world began. I read and re-read The Silmarillion (and the other books), and I was utterly captivated.

I had lived in and loved other fantasy before, including The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, and others. But here in the land of Arda (which means Earth and includes Middle-earth, Valinor/the Undying Lands, Beleriand, and other regions of The Silmarillion), I found a land which was to be my own for years, and still is — more my own than any others save those which I’ve discovered and written about in my own fiction (and books about old Ireland, I suppose).

I read the Silmarillion stories again and again.

I pored over maps and knew every hill and river, forest, mountain, fortress, and their names — the city of Gondolin, Nargothrond, the Forest of Brethil, Ossiriand, Mithrim, Sirion the great river, the dread forest of Taur-nu-Fuin, Thangorodrim, Doriath . . . These were places I visited and loved (okay, maybe not the scarier places).

I studied genealogical charts of the heroes who inhabited these places, and drew my own.

I learned small smatterings of Elvish words and invented secret Elvish names I still carry with me to this day.

I learned to write Tengwar, the Elvish alphabet, and would scribble my name and poetry and random writing in it, both in simple pencil and in calligraphy — I learned to use calligraphy pens for this purpose. Tengwar was such fun! I had gone through a code-and-cipher obsession when I was a bit younger, even inventing a cipher alphabet of my own. So discovering Tengwar, which was like that but elegant and a part of this wonderful world I loved, was fantastic.

I had to pull out some of my old Tengwar and notes and books, just to share them in this post. It’s been awhile, but even looking at these again makes me happy.

And all of that aside from simply how the world and the writing and imagery, and the tales, and above all the characters, of The Silmarillion made their way into my inner soul and became mine. I always feel at home there.

I was friends with Finrod Felagund, Beren and Luthien, Beleg Strongbow, Fingolfin, and all the rest. (I even had the cheek to add Tinuviel, one of Luthien’s names, to my own rather-long sign-off penname in some letters I wrote at the time; a name which also included names of other heroines I admired from other fantasy works).

All of this went on for years and was a part of my childhood and teenage years.

Aside from The Silmarillion, I also started reading others of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien.

I started reading through Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth series (which I still need to finish), delighting in the old drafts and beginnings of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers . . . I had been writing for a little while myself, and so reading these beginnings and seeing the stories change and build, captivated me. It was fascinating to see earlier versions of my favorite books of all time, including learning about Aragorn’s earliest beginnings in the story as a mysterious Hobbit named Trotter!

And the unpublished Epilogue to The Lord of the Rings (found in Sauron Defeated or in The End of the Third Age) is fabulous and in my opinion makes the trilogy end less sadly. I wish it had been included in the original book.

I got those History of Middle-earth books about The Lord of the Rings for another Christmas, and it was shortly afterward (February) when I began putting dates on my own fiction writings, which at that time I wrote in notebooks and binders.

You see, a continued lamentation of Christopher Tolkien’s, as he carefully, painstakingly reconstructed the progression of his father’s stories, was that J. R. R. Tolkien rarely wrote dates on his writings. Christopher had often to rely on vague references in dated letters, or the fact that something was scribbled on the back of a term paper or something, or on changes to the text through various drafts with only one dated, etc.

It made me want to write down the date when I wrote my own drafts and plot notes, and so I did. Which is why I know the exact date (March 1, 2007) when I decided I was going to rewrite and finish the draft of my main story at the time, and that I was going to be a writer. Written on that printout which I was marking with a pencil at Barnes & Noble is the date and my own name written in Elvish Tengwar. Both of them because of J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien.

I’m a very calendar- and date-obsessed person, and it very likely got its main beginnings with The Lord of the Rings and The History of Middle-earth. I keep track of dates when I write. I love journals. I get really into calendars. I delight in knowing that on a certain day (March 1, for example, is Aragorn’s birthday), certain events in Lord of the Rings happened. I keep track of real-life anniversaries/important days in my life, and from history, too, and I love keeping track of the birthdays of friends and favorite authors. (I always celebrate J. R. R. Tolkien’s on January 3!)

And because I track my writing days, I know special days to celebrate, like the first time I finished writing a novel (August 31), the day I started this blog (September 9), the day I started writing Tare’s series (April 5) — which at the time I had no idea was anything like so important to me as it would become — and so on.

And all of this started probably because I used to read through the Tale of Years in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, full of delightful dates and years that I enjoyed puzzling out (ah, that’s exactly how much older that character is than the other character — ah, Faramir and Sam were born in the exact same year — ah, look how old that character is; it’s so delightful to know exactly! — ah, that’s the day when they left Rivendell, how smashing!), and because of Christopher Tolkien mentioning how difficult it was to track the progression of ideas in writings when they were not dated.

I own more books by J. R. R. Tolkien and about him and his writings than I do about any other author, and many of these were books which Christopher Tolkien carefully set out to share with us, for which I am eternally grateful.

While The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would definitely have been a large part of my life and childhood and forming years, regardless, yet all the other books which Christopher edited and published — from The Silmarillion in 1977 to The Fall of Gondolin, his last, in 2018 (having completed his task to share the Great Tales, as far as they had come, with the world) — have formed an incredible part of my life. I’m so glad that he was able to share the wealth of his father’s work with us and his own contributions to it.

From the beginning, when J. R. R. Tolkien told The Hobbit to Christopher and his other children, as a bedtime story; through the chapters of The Lord of the Rings which he sent to Christopher, who was in the RAF in World War II; to Christopher drawing a version of the famous map of Middle-earth that we all know; and all through collecting and publishing so many hidden gems of his father’s writings, Christopher Tolkien has had nearly as large an impact on we who love Middle-earth and the other realms of this world, as J. R. R. Tolkien himself did.

Namárië, Christopher Reuel Tolkien.

The Tolkien legacy is a rich treasure to which you added immeasurably.

From myself, and those others who grew up breathing the air of The Silmarillion and walking its lands, you have my far-reaching and unfathomable thanks.

One day, perhaps, I’ll meet you in that far green country, on white shores, under a swift sunrise.

Fantastical Realms Blog Tag (#FantasyMonth)

I’m hopping on the February is Fantasy Month blog event (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt) with a tag! (Thanks for tagging me, Jenelle!) Feel free to join in on this tag yourself — you can find the original post here!

Onward to the adventure or questions or both!

The Rules

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Include the graphic somewhere in your post.
  • Link back to this blog somewhere in your post.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag a few blogger friends – and let them know they’ve been tagged
  • Have fun!

The Questions

1. In a strange twist of fate, you are transported into a fantasy realm of your choice. The catch? You have also been transformed into your least favorite fantasy creature. Where are you, and what are you?

Fantasy realm of choice . . . probably Middle-earth, because yes. Least favorite fantasy creature? They have those? O_O Um . . . I guess anything serpent-like would be my least favorite, so I’m probably doomed to be a scary wyrm that some Elf will find and slay. XD

2. What fantasy creature do you wish featured in more stories? What is your favorite story that has that creature in it?

(Verrry old drawing I did)

Gryphons! They are definitely in a few but not nearly enough. I just love them! Favorite book with a gryphon is probably Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. I LOVE all the gryphons in there! They have so much personality. I particularly love Kit. 😀 Oh, and I love Gillian Bronte Adams’ Songkeeper series, which also has an awesome gryphon in it!

3. As you are reading this, a voice rings in your ear proclaiming:

A hero true, a leader strong,
A quest is where you do belong,
So arm thyself, and take your stand
With an item to your left your fate is at hand.

Besides the fact that this prophetic voice is clearly incapable of sticking to a meter, what ordinary item do you now find yourself armed with? (And, for bonus points, what helpful magical properties does it now possess that will help you on your quest?)

A large insulated travel mug full of tea. And the magical properties it has . . . well, clearly, it never runs out of tea, and always keeps it warm, and the resulting never-ending caffeine rush helps me power through my quest, although I probably end up jittery throughout the adventure because of that. XD

4. You happen across an ad in a catalogue promising a magical fantasy cruise that will allow you to stop in any three realms of your choice and explore each for several days before returning you home (and the ad promises your safe return or your money back, guaranteed!) Assuming this is not a hoax and that the tour guides will actually be able to cater to your requests, what three realms will you tour and what do you hope to see/who would you like to meet along the way?

*cracks knuckles*

Firstly, I’m going to Middle-earth, and this fantasy cruise clearly also has the ability to travel through time in the same place . . . so I get to see both Lord-of-the-Rings-times Middle-earth and also back in the Silmarillion times in Beleriand etc. Because . . . THE DREAM. I practically grew up in Beleriand and the other realms of The Silmarillion (I’d see Gondolin! and Menegroth! and Valinor while I’m at it! and everywhere!), and who wouldn’t want to visit Rivendell, Rohan, Ithilien, Lothlorien, the Shire, the Lonely Mountain, Minas Tirith, etc. I would definitely want to meet at least Faramir and Aragorn, and Finrod Felagund and Beleg Strongbow and Luthien Tinuviel, and SO MANY OTHERS.

Secondly, I’m going to Ingary to get to hang out in Howl’s moving castle, with Howl, Sophie, Calcifer, Michael, etc. We’re definitely going to have to have some cream cakes from Cesari’s, and I want to go through the door to each of the places it opens up to. (Bonus: I get to visit Wales. *cackles*)

Thirdly, and terribly selfishly . . . I want to visit the world where my own Steampunk fairy tale retelling works-in-progress take place. I’ve completely fallen in love with it and I can’t wait for the day when I can share this world with others. I love the skyships and the cities in the clouds, the lonely rock formation pillars and dangling walkways across misty ravines, the clockwork dragons and tea and clothing and fairy tale retellings. And I would definitely need to get to go to a ball at the palace where Princess Tasmania’s from, and meet her and her twin brothers Percival and Durward, and of course Auren, and sit on a rooftop at night with Rook on top of his flat over the spice shop (as long as there are no assassins), and sail the skies with Gerias and Noya and the Royal Sky Navy (avoiding the sky pirates, unless they’re charming Keller or clever Skalon), and stand on top of one of the rock pillars in the wind and watch the sun set and the stars come out.

*inhales*

Sorry. I got a little carried away. But those are the three worlds I want to visit. ^_^

5. Congratulations! You are a fantasy hero/heroine about to start your adventure. You get to choose a small fantasy creature to accompany and assist you on your quest. Who/what do you choose?

Talking otter secretary, hands-down. *grinning*

(I’m definitely planning to do more with little Gavin the otter, hopefully in a novel one of these days. :D)

Otters are just SO AWESOME AND ADORABLE and one who can be a secretary would be so helpful. Plus, he could fish for me, which has to be helpful. And hey, if he’s a more sentient otter, who can write, that probably counts as a fantasy creature, right?

6. Elves or dwarves?

Elves!

7. Do you prefer your dragons (we had to have at least one question devoted solely to dragons!) good or evil or a mix of both?

A mix of both. Classic evil dragons are . . . well . . . classic. And you can’t really do better for villains than a dragon. (Like Smaug or Glaurung.) But I do enjoy the ones who are on our heroes’ side — not to mention how helpful they are to have on your side! (Like Toothless!) And the ones who are a little more morally grey and initially hard to figure out which side they’re on are probable my favorite, in general. (Hello, Malcolm Blackfire.) I like all the dragons!

8. World building is a complicated undertaking full of many details. As a reader, what is a small detail you really appreciate seeing when it comes to diving into a new realm? What is something that helps you lose yourself in a fantasy world?

Smells are always a good touch and are helpful to bring in. But I think my favorite is when there are myths and stories WITHIN the story, which makes it have a further depth to it. It’s just so cool when characters can reference this myth or story and it effects their own. It can be hard to do well, because sometimes there’s too much of it, or else the reader just doesn’t care. But when it works, it’s brilliant. J. R. R. Tolkien, Joanna Ruth Meyer, and Jenelle Leanne Schmidt — for example — do excellent with this! So does Kyle Robert Shultz, though in that case it’s fairy tales harking back to fairy tales, but they’re always tweaked so it makes them feel real.

9. You have been transformed into your favorite fantasy creature. Problem is… you’re still in your own bedroom and your family is downstairs, completely unprepared for this shock. What creature are you, and how (if at all) do you break the news to your loved ones? (Or how do you get out of your room?)

Oh dear. XD Well, I’m a gryphon, as implied earlier, so that’s cool! I probably wouldn’t break the news — they would probably just arrive in my room and find me sitting on my bed and barely fitting (because gryphons are large), trying to decide if I should try flying out the window or just keep reading. 😛 I hope I could talk though, so that they wouldn’t think I’d been eaten. XD And I’d probably be freaking out (I would freak out if my hair turned a different color, let alone if I turned into a creature) buuut I like to think it would also be kind of cool? Especially to fly . . .

Tagging

I tag Sarah Pennington, Claire Banschbach, Lauri, and YOU if you are reading this and want to do it! (Absolutely no pressure. XD And apologies if you’ve already been tagged! I am behind on blogs and internet in general. XD)

Well. How was that? I hope you enjoyed my answers! Thanks so much for reading! 🙂