My Life’s Tower of Fantasy

Here at the end of all things, Samwise Gamgee the end of the second Silmarillion Awards, wherein we celebrate all things fantasy, Tolkien, and favorite characters, I have a bit to say about these things and their importance to me in my life so far.

So today, the 63rd birthday of The Fellowship of the Ring’s publication, seemed a good time to do so.

*distant cries of “Happy birthday!” and Bilbo saying (un?)complimentary things concerning knowing people half as well as he should like etc.*

*also birthday cake for one and all*

*and 63 still-burning candles to feed to your dragon*

(You’re welcome. I hope he likes wax.)

Warning:

The following is a somewhat lengthy post that is more of an essay than many posts I’ve written (don’t worry, it’s broken into segments with handy headers, so you might survive), and contains such things as Middle-earth, Diana Wynne Jones, Prydain, Stephen Lawhead, epic heroines, tower metaphors, nostalgia of some books/series that have shaped me, and how wonderful and life-changing Fantasy can be.

If this does not sound like your cup of tea, turn around and flee — for here in the realm of Faerie and Fantasy, truths are hidden behind every tree, characters are noble as can be, fancy runs free, and here . . . there be dragons.

On The Silmarillion

This month, using the Silmarillion Awards as a much-needed excuse, as I was re-reading The Silmarillion for the first time in many years, it startled me how much it felt like coming home. I used to read that book (as well as The Lord of the Rings, etc.) a lot when I was younger and just discovering the amazing worlds of Middle-earth. I lived in Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I lived in Beleriand in The Silmarillion too, and in a sense that was more “mine” since fewer people were into it than LOTR. The Silmarillion and surrounding mythology was like my special world that I went to live in, learning to write the Tengwar Elvish alphabet in calligraphy, studying maps, creating family trees of all the characters I knew by name…

It’s been a lovely journey, returning there and meeting these long-lost friends in this place I’ve been absent from far too long. I’m also bringing more to it now at a slightly older age, which has been fascinating. I’m aware The Silmarillion might not be for everyone, but it’s extremely special to me. I met it at a younger age and was so immersed in it that I knew all the names so well that returning was like going home and meeting old friends.

On The Tower of Fantasy

I’ve been thinking about the impact Tolkien’s works and other beloved works of fantasy have had on my life. Looking back, I can trace a few books and series that stand out as those important, life-changing, core-of-your-being books that I believe everyone (or all bookworms, at least) have. Those ones that are so much a part of you that, consciously or unconsciously, you are changed by them and they inform much of who you are and what your life is, your tastes in fiction (and in writing, if you’re a writer like me), and form a core part of your heart. They are different through the years, and that’s how I measure parts of my life (about three or four of them so far, I think) — by what was the most ME books I was reading or loving or living at the time.

Imagine your life is a tower that you are slowly building as the years go on. I see those books as the building blocks of the tower of my own life, the stones of my foundations (or at least, for the purposes of this post, the foundation for my love of fantasy in both reading and writing, which is what I’m here to talk about) that come and go in a way as I gain new interests, so that sometimes it feels like betrayal . . . How could you move on? But I can always go back down the winding stairs of the tower and visit them again, and they’ll always be a part of me. They all inform who I am, and what my reading taste is, and how I think, and what I want to be and do, and most especially (for this writer) what I write as well.

I can see blocks of time in this Fantasy Tower of my life.

Level One: Prydain and MacDonald

It started with George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. I don’t know which were first, I only know, looking back, that they were very early and, I believe, introduced me to Fantasy. Those are at the base of the tower; they were the first, and I read them and was enchanted. I LIVED in those worlds, and I loved those stories and characters so much. I still do, as with all of these. I’m afraid some of my earliest writings bore an uncanny resemblance to both those works, but we all start somewhere, yes? 😉

So, first was my beginning years of loving fantasy, with MacDonald and Prydain. (I believe Narnia came in somewhere around there a little after, and other works of Fantasy, though I don’t know how extreme their influence was.) That’s the first layer of stones at the base of the tower of Fantasy. They’re awhile ago from when I was younger and wasn’t aware of my tower, so it’s a little jumbled and vague, hidden in mists near the ground, and more instinctive than my deeper understanding of the later portions as I grew older, as I look back and remember better.

(Do you know why it’s called “in the mists of time”? Because YOU CAN’T SEE VERY WELL INTO IT. Ahem. Foggy memories… *shakes head*)

Level Two: Tolkien

The next really big thing, which is the largest on the fantasy tower so far, was Tolkien.

I read The Hobbit at one point, and then I later read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten or so, I believe. Some writers (and readers) come to Tolkien first, as their big fantasy introduction, but for me I already had the groundwork of fantasy laid; Tolkien served to strengthen it and built the next part of the tower, and was a focus of mine for many years, my absolute favorite. As I mentioned, I was enchanted and fell in love with these books, and went on to read The Silmarillion (several times), as well as reading any other works, finished or unfinished, by Tolkien that I could get my hands on. But not only were these stories, this world, these characters and languages, epic and beautiful and beloved and some of my favorites of all time, but the author himself simply seemed . . . right.

Tolkien was a kindred soul, and I know that sounds pompous to say, but when I read his letters and thoughts, I find myself agreeing with him and thinking “Oh! Yes! I’m just like that!” on so many levels. He and I just agree so well and have such similar temperaments. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near his level of talent or genius etc., I’m merely saying that he and I click, in a way that no other author that I can currently think of who I’ve run across does.

Tolkien’s works remain the next solid layer of my Fantasy tower, a very large portion of it, and still inform so much of my life and core personality and interests today.

Level Three: Diana Wynne Jones

(also concerning strawberry icecream)

Then, in 2012, I read Howl’s Moving Castle on a highly-trusted recommendation, and discovered Diana Wynne Jones. This is the third layer of my Fantasy tower. As some who read my blogs might have noticed, I’ve been very big on DWJ for awhile now. XD I’m captivated by and addicted to her books, particularly certain ones which have just stuck with me really well. I love her writing style and the humor she always had in her books, and her quirky but charming and lovable characters, and the absolute originality of her fantasy, mashed together with other genres to make her books unpigeonholeable (not a word, but should be), as well as how I always learn things about life and the world and people when I read her works. I’ve seen a bit of an influence on my writing as well, wanting to write more whimsical and amusing things.

It’s funny: when I decided Howl’s Moving Castle shared my top-favorite spot with The Lord of the Rings, and have been very DWJ focused, I didn’t realize (until recently) this thing about the Tower of Fantasy, how I can have different stages and favorites; and because I had just come from the Tolkien stage, I felt disloyal to Middle-earth, as if loving something else as well meant that I was betraying it by not loving ONLY it.

But I’ve realized that we have different stages in our lives, and that’s okay — it doesn’t make the previous stages any LESS important or less a part of you, you’re just on a different part of your journey so different things are more important right now. It’s not a betrayal. It’s growth and continuing and layers over the core.

I’ve always thought of myself as the girl who loves Middle-earth and the color green and Celtic music and chocolate and writes medieval fantasy. That’s still at my core and I will always be that person. But lately, if I’ve been a DWJ person who loves the color blue and dabbles in Christian rock or pop and loves strawberry ice cream and writes contemporary fantasy . . . that doesn’t mean I’m not STILL that same person as before too.

Because I can love both, I can have different layers of favorites, different layers of interests, and it doesn’t mean that blue or green or chocolate or strawberry are better than each other, or that in trying other kinds of books, music, and genres, that I’m abandoning the ones I used to have. I can do all of it, and it can all be me.

This is a slight tangent, but I feel like I need to address it while on the subject of moving through different books that are your favorites at the time. It’s okay to have different favorites at different times in your life, and it’s not being disloyal. I’m saying this partly to remind myself (especially when I feel bad about not having re-read some of these favorites in several years; I still plan to sometime), and partly in case anyone is having problems with it like I have. XD

I still interchange LOTR and Howl’s Moving Castle as my “favorite” books (and let’s be honest, sometimes I put Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal up there because I love it and it’s amazing) but hey, I can have more than one top-favorite, right? 😉

Level Four? (Bright Empires)

It’s always hard to know, while you’re currently on a part of the tower, if something you’re reading is going to be the next part or if it’s just another great fantasy work but not quite a core one. But I think and suspect that, perhaps (time will tell), my latest addition to the Fantasy Tower of my life are Stephen R. Lawhead’s works. I just read his Bright Empires series, and while (like I said) I can’t be sure whether or not they’re the next ring of building blocks for my tower, at the very least, it’s the best series I’ve read in a long time.

Definitely favorites, the Bright Empires books have expanded my mind so much, broadened my horizons, were thoroughly epic, mind-boggling, and fun, with beloved characters, and introduced me to the first heroine in a very long time who I want so hard to be, namely Mina. She inspires me so much. Plus, the books are simply masterpieces. I think very differently after reading these books, I clicked so well with them, and they were absolutely amazing.

Speaking of Mina, let’s talk about heroines for a minute, since the award I hosted was Most Epic Heroine.

Of Heroines

Heroines are hard to write, my friends. One strange thing about my personality is that I rarely come across a favorite female character. I think it’s because I’m a girl and I find that it’s harder for an author to write a girl character that I actually like, because I am one and we’re complicated, and the fictional girls often end up either too tough or too wimpy, neither of which I like. I more often am interested in the male characters, who are generally cooler and doing more interesting things. I do run up against female characters that I like sometimes, and that’s often a sign that the author is a good one.

But there have only been a handful that have stood out as my favorites, the ones who at some level I feel like are ME, and at another level I feel like are what I want to be, what I want to become, what I want to take and emulate because they are noble and good and show some part of humanity that I want to BE. They make me want to be a better person, while I also feel like I am them.

And those are basically:

  • Princess Irene from The Princess and the Goblin
  • Princess Eilonwy from the Chronicles of Prydain
  • Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings
  • Luthien Tinuviel from The Silmarillion
  • Wilhelmina “Mina” Klug from the Bright Empires series.

(I think on some level, I was Lucy from Narnia when I was younger, and many of Diana Wynne Jones’ characters have been instant connections for me, like Sophie and others, as well, though I haven’t thought as much about those for this post; likely because they’re more recent for me but not as mind-blowing as Mina was — who was the character that got me started thinking about all of this — so I haven’t thought them out as much.)

(Also, I find this a good time to mention the dedication in The High King by Lloyd Alexander, which I never understood until now: “For the boys who might have been Taran and the girls who will always be Eilonwy.“)

Of Heroism/Nobility versus Mediocrity/”Realism”

And I think it’s important to have favorite characters one can look up to, have as role models, but still feel you are like them. There’s a sort of connection there that is marvelous. Heroes tend to be more favorites of mine than heroines, and I can learn things from them as well, of course, and they’re simply awesome sometimes, so there’s that; but I can’t exactly BE them, quite the way I can be a heroine like Eilonwy or Mina.

I think these heroines stand out to me partly because it is so rare for me to find a timeless one like that. There are many other noble and wonderful heroines I’ve liked over time, don’t get me wrong! Some even other favorites. But these are my FAVORITE favorites, the ones I want to be like. 🙂

And that’s part of why I’m tired of this “make them relatable and ‘realistic’ by giving them flaws and making them fallen and ordinary” trend in modern writing.

No.

I don’t want mediocre Main Characters. I want Epic Heroines.

If your favorite characters are mediocre, you’ll only want to be mediocre, you’ll only believe that’s how far you can go.

If, on the other hand, your favorite characters are noble and epic and extraordinary, then you’ll want to rise above your ordinary and mediocre, fallen and flawed life, and try to emulate them, to BE them; and these fictional characters who aren’t “real” can change your life and make you a better person. All by being fantastic characters. What’s not to love?

Things These Core Books Have In Common

What do all these books and series have in common? They are Fantasy, yes. But they each hold things that truly resonated with me — not just one thing but all the elements and the whole.

I love the stories. I love the worlds. I love the characters — not only the heroes, not only the heroines, but both, as well as the entire cast of characters, really. They have favorite heroes. I want to be the heroines. I want to live in the books.

“The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

(from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis)

I also “click” with the authors — when I read things that these authors like Alexander, Tolkien, Jones, and Lawhead say (in fiction and nonfiction) I’ve had these wonderful “me too!” moments, those times when, like in the C.S. Lewis quote above, you form a friendship from a shared thought or feeling. We share the same truth. I feel like they’re kindred souls, and suspect that’s one of the reasons I love their fiction so much. (It’s interesting: when I love an author’s fiction work enough to try out their nonfiction, that’s when I discover my favorite works of nonfiction, essays, etc. It’s happened so many times with these and a couple other authors.)

And I learned things from these favorite, core books. Yes, shocking as it may sound to some, these fiction books, these works of *gasp* fantasy, have taught me so many things that, as I think about it, my mind boggles and I can’t even begin to explain all the things I’ve learned from these wonderful works of literature and art. (I did do a post about a few of those things, awhile back, but that was only scratching the surface.)

Because fantasy is true. These things may not have happened in our world, but they have Truth, and I learn things far better when they’re woven into a tale (a parable, perhaps?) than I can reading some boring textbook. I can see the things unfolding and understand things about the characters and wonder about things and want to learn about them. Fantasy may not always teach “facts” like how big the sun is or how many threes make a dozen (though they might teach that too), but they teach me real things about life and about love and about how people work and how to surmount obstacles and to try to be a better person like my heroes (and heroines).

I don’t know if these fantasy authors try to put these things in their works (I know I certainly don’t, but sometimes things creep in somehow), or if they simply are trying to tell a good story and their worldviews are shining through the particular leaf of the Tree of Tales that they are telling and coming out as good wholesome lessons from the Writer of all Lives, but regardless, I’ve found so much Truth in these and other works of fantasy.

And all of that as a bonus to reading simply amazing fantastical stories about fabulous characters in imaginative worlds. What is not to love? Who would have thought it, but Fantasy is fantastic in all meanings of that word, and that is why I love it as I do.

Plus, I mean, Fantasy has dragons. And there’s the icing on the cake.

*passes around the last of the LOTR birthday celebration cake and breaks out Gandalf’s fireworks to celebrate Middle-earth and Fantasy with a literal bang*

(P.S.: If you have a Fantasy/LOTR themed post this week, feel free to share the link in the linky over on Jenelle’s post!)

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Blogoversary Party! + Giveaways

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Good day, roadlings of mine!

Well, I mentioned I’d have an announcement/something fun going on here on the blog on Friday, and Friday seems to have arrived… so I am here at last!

The news?

Today is my third blogoversary!

Three years ago today, I created this blog, The Road of a Writer and history was made and so it began!

(source) (You knew I would do that one, didn’t you…)

Of course, my internet was buzzing merrily along yesterday, but this morning it decided to go out, on this most auspicious of days. So I’m currently at a cupcake shop borrowing WiFi to post this, which is why it’s later than I planned…

But this is an oddly appropriate twist of fate, seeing as how my internet died exactly 3 years ago and I ended up creating my blog using WiFi in town. I am proof that history repeats itself.

Plus, cupcakes. Appropriate celebratory confection, no? So that worked out! (Because cupcakes.)

I’m really excited to celebrate my third blogoversary! 😀 (…if you can’t tell. ;))

Anyhow! Here are some fun stats about my last 3 years of blogging:

  • 186 posts (this is my 187th!)
  • 6246 visitors (thank you!)
  • 22,642 hits (you are awesome for coming back so many times)
  • 3778 comments* (THANK YOU SO MUCH, COMMENTERS! ❤ You make the world go ’round. Or at least make it brighter. *feeds you cupcakes*)
  • 300 followers (my 300th follower followed me yesterday, right before my 3rd blogoversary — talk about timing. Day = made. Thanks so much to all my followers! You are awesome! ^_^)

*Roughly half the comments were likely me, since I always reply to comments…

But more than random numbers, which really aren’t all that important (I’m a word person, not a number person), I’ve really enjoyed blogging thus far, and the best part about it is . . .

YOU

I’m so thankful to you guys for reading and commenting on my blog — it means so much that you take a little time out of your busy lives to listen for a moment to whatever I happen to have to say. I really appreciate it. ^_^*GROUP HUG*

Anyhow, I thought it would be great fun to have a celebration all month long here on my blog, to celebrate 3 years of blogging…

So, here’s the plan…

For the remainder of September, I will be posting a tag post daily on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, to catch up on all the lovely tags I’ve been meaning to get around to doing. (I won’t tag anyone specific, but always feel free to consider yourself tagged if you like.)

Fridays I will be doing giveaway posts, and each giveaway will have a theme and three prizes. Today (Friday), I have a giveaway. Next Friday, I will have another one, and the third the week after that — themes to be announced then! The final day of the month, September 30 (also a Friday) I will have a wrapup post and announce the giveaway winners for all three giveaway sets.

So, tag posts Monday-Wednesday, giveaway posts on Fridays.

Sound like a plan? Good? Good!

And now for what I know you’ve been waiting for: a giveaway! It’s for you, my lovely followers, as a way of saying THANK YOU!

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Giveaway #1 – Writing Themed

Here’s the first giveaway! Featuring 3 separate prizes, to be won by three separate people. (3 is my theme, okay; don’t judge.) Since this is a writing blog, I thought it would be nice to have a writing themed giveaway for the first one. 🙂

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One winner will receive a hardcover copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. As a punctuation addict, this is one of my favorite writing-related books. It’s useful and amusing all at once. If you’re a writer, you need this book! I’ve read it at least twice and highly recommend it.

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A second winner will receive this handy blank journal with a forest road on the cover. (Road of a writer? Get it? I know, I know I’m hilarious. *cough*) Because what writer is able to resist another journal? Answer: NO ONE.

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And a third winner will receive this quote from C.S. Lewis about writing (“You can make anything by writing.”) as a one-of-a-kind picture, hand-lettered in blue calligraphy and gold pen by yours truly.

Details

3 winners. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open to US residents only. Giveaway will run from today (Fri., Sept. 9) until Thursday, September 29. Winners (3) will be chosen and contacted by email and also announced here on my blog, on September 30, 2016.

EDIT: The winners have been announced! Thanks for participating!

(If the embedded form below doesn’t work for you, you can find it here.)

So, let the celebration begin! Thanks ever so much for coming with me on this Road of a Writer, my roadlings! You are the best. ^_^ Confetti and cupcakes for all!!! ❤

Presenting the Winner of the Strangest Character Silmaril Award!

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Mae govannen!

Today I’m pleased to have, filling in for me, one of the most eccentric but amiable persons in all of Middle-earth, well known for his yellow-boot-wearing tendencies and his joy in all things, prone to singing and talking in rhyme and often referring to himself in the third person.

A Note: Those unhappy individuals in the audience who have only seen the film adaptions of The Lord of the Rings without having ventured through the delightful pages of Tolkien’s actual books, will not have met this character as yet . . . Perhaps this merry meeting will show such people what they are missing!

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Hey! Come derry dol! merry dol! My darlings!
Tom’s here to sing today, like the feathered starlings,
To give an award away, that is what they’re tasking
(The SilmAward leaders all) — but who am I, you’re asking?

I’m Tom Bombadil! Quite a merry fellow!
Bright blue my jacket is and my boots are yellow!
Down by the Forest Old, with Goldberry a-living.
The Strangest Character Award is what I will be giving.

Who’s stranger than old Tom? That there is no knowing,
So off to find the voted one, that is where we’re going.
Come now! Hop along! Follow Bombadillo!
Down along the river clear, far from Old Man Willow!

Who’s on the river bank, fishing for his dinner?
Puddleglum of Narnia! Here we have our winner!

puddleglum1

(Puddleglum illustrations by Pauline Baynes, from The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis)

Long legs, pointy hat, hands and feet all froggy,
Thin face and reedy hair, from Eastern Marshes foggy.
Marsh-wiggle, winner-Strange, from near the River Shribble,
Fishing now beside the bank of the old Withywindle!

“Ho there, Puddleglum! Good fortune to have found you!
Tom has some news to give, that in fact he’s bound to!”

“Ahoy! Bombadil. What is it? Was there a fire? Dragons, of course. A flood, maybe? Has my wigwam been knocked down in a storm while I’ve been away? Or perhaps there’s a prohibition against fishing for eels in this river? Bound to be true by now, I shouldn’t wonder. Don’t break it to me gently, I’d rather have it all at once. Put a bold face on it and all that.”

“Not a thing to fret about, but reason for elation
You’ve won a fine award from a celebration!”

“A mistake, I shouldn’t wonder. It must be meant for some other fellow. While we’re on the subject, what might be the nature of this award? Mind you, I don’t believe I’ve won it . . .”

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“The Silmarillion Awards, for people who’re deserving;
The Strangest Character Award they have for you, reserving!”

“Strangest. Ah. Now isn’t that a fine distinction. Arranged by the other Marsh-wiggles, no doubt. ʻHe’s a strange one, is that Puddleglum,ʼ they would say. ʻAltogether too flighty and full of bounce and high spirits.ʼ Strangest. Of course.”

“Come now, Wiggle-man, be not melancholy!
Being given this award is reason to be jolly!”

“I dare say. And I’m not a man; but you’ve forgotten that, I’ll be bound. All that merry dol-ing has gone to your head, I shouldn’t wonder. Too much merriment. Just think what the other Marsh-wiggles would say.”

Tom is a-laughing now, laughing like a bellows.
“Old friend Puddleglum, you’re the best of fellows!
But Goldberry is coming now, her silver voice a-singing,
Helping Tom with the award, Silmaril a-bringing!”

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Goldberry (smiling): “Here is a pretty thing for in your wigwam keeping;
Take it please, good Puddleglum, or else there may be weeping,
For it was clearly stated by the fans that it is for you.
You deserve it Puddleglum; take it, we implore you!”

“There’ll certainly be weeping in any case, once they discover it wasn’t meant for me at all. But a chap can’t turn down something like that when it’s given so handsomely from such a fine lady as yourself and from an old friend, even if it is meant for some other poor chap. My thanks.”

(bowing)

puddleglum“. . . Mind you, I suppose there’ll be a discovery of the mistake, and then there’ll be dangerous journeys for myself or the other fellow, wandering about in snow and rain and thunder, trying to make sure it gets into the hands of the rightful owner. But, to look on the bright side, perhaps such a shiny thing will pay for the funeral of myself and the other chap in case our journeys don’t end favorably (and why would they?). It will be a lot of bother. End in messy deaths for all, I shouldn’t wonder. A sad business. But a Marsh-wiggle never shrinks from hardship. So I’ll accept the award, just this once. I’ll just have to make the best of it . . .”

Puddleglum takes the jewel, then goes back to fishing,
Likely still a hungry one, for his eel-stew wishing.
Goldberry is turning now, laughing bright as any spring;
Puddleglum can still be heard: “Doubt that I’ll catch anything.”

Tom’s laughing, homeward now, through the forest going
With pretty Goldberry, by the river flowing.
The singing is almost done, duty now is finished
Silmaril Awards go on, shining undiminished!

How went the voting? That is what I hear some thinking.
Here are the secrets all! Tom will give them, winking . . .
Marsh-wiggle and sockman, a wizard, girl, and fire —
Strange are the nominees! These votes they did acquire. *

Hoping it was merry though! derry-o! and merry-o!
Characters a-worthy from fantasy and Faerie-o!
Come now, hop along, quick as you are able
To see those voted best in fantasy and fable!

If ever you are wandering down by the Withywindle,
Come visit Bombadil, candle-light to kindle!
Farewell to readers and to Marsh-wiggle by water
From Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

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(Bombadil & Goldberry, illustration by Pauline Baynes in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R. Tolkien)

* Strangest Character (119 out of 123 people voted on this)

  • Puddleglum (The Silver Chair) 46 votes / 39%
  • Pete the Sockman (The Wingfeather Saga) 34 votes / 29%
  • Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle) 16 votes / 13%
  • Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter series) 13 votes / 11%
  • Calcifer (Howl’s Moving Castle) 10 votes / 8%

Looking Forward, Looking Back (2016/2015)

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I love the change of the year and have been doing many of my favorite New Years things like starting new journals. A fresh year is waiting, like a blank page to be written on, and the old year is gone, with all its good times and, yes, failures. It’s time to start fresh.

Danny Gokey says it beautifully in his song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again: “Yesterday’s a closing door — you don’t live there anymore.” Give the song a listen! (I heard it on the radio this week, fell in love, and have listened to it ten billion times since and am listening to it on repeat as I write this post). It’s beautiful and feels just right for the New Year.

Here are some of my excitements for the new year of 2016, as well as a brief look back at my 2015. And — yes! — lists!

2016

My word for 2016

Joy is my word this year. I want to find joy in everything if I can. It’s going to be hard, since I struggle with a tendency to be stressed and down on myself. But I’m tired of feeling crushed beneath expectations, beneath things I feel are obligations which ought to be enjoyable but have become chores. This includes — yes — writing, reading, emailing… even the things that I usually love, sometimes can become a burden because I’m a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist. I’m hoping to approach everything, the fun and the not, with Joy. To rediscover my Joy in writing and life and find a freedom I’ve been looking for . . . that is my wish for the new year.

JOY! 🙂

I’M EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR:

aspysdevotionThese books coming out:

Yorien’s Hand // The Goblin’s Puzzle // A Spy’s Devotion // Fridays with the Wizards // Rebel of the Sands // Songkeeper // The Story of Kullervo // King’s Folly // The Beautiful Pretender // Five Magic Spindles // Defying Shadows // Stolen Crowns #1 // The Bone Queen // Crooked Kingdom

(I did a post about this if you want pics/links to Goodreads, but I’ve since added Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams — sequel to Orphan’s Song — and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, both of which are sequels that I need this instant. *flail*)

These movies releasing:

  • The Abominable Bride (Sherlock special which I’m hopefully going to see on Wednesday… YAY!)
  • Captain America: The Civil War (YESSSS!! As I may have mentioned, I’m kind of looking forward to this a lot, primarily because BUCKY and HAWKEYE!)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Because Star Wars…)

(Also, perhaps someday I’ll see Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Batman Vs. Superman, which are releasing this year, but I’m not in a super hurry as they also sound weird…)

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I’d also like to see:

  • Pan (missed that when it came out last year)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy (somehow still haven’t seen this)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World (which I technically saw once but need to rewatch since I have no memory of it which is slightly terrifying since I think I liked it a lot?!)

My 2015 at a Glance

READING

66 Books

2015books

I read many lovely books, notably many retellings and much Diana Wynne Jones; and discovered steampunk and heist books. (Yay!) And I just posted my top 15 favorites of the year.

Goodreads has a lovely new “Year in Books Feature” which I love! (Mine is here.)

WATCHING

Shows I saw:

  • Leverage (seasons 1-5) — everyone knows how much I love this… *cough*
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC Miniseries) — interesting to see on screen
  • Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1) — I ADORED THIS! Sooo much fun. ❤

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I don’t go to the theater often, but this year I saw:

  • starwars7posterStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — AS;LDKJFLSK FEELS. WHAT. Still haven’t decided what I think of it except that I know I had a blast and then felt extremely sad near the end… I think overall I loved it? But I’m not sure yet! *flail* One thing’s for sure: ALL OF THE FEELS. And I adore the new characters, particularly Poe, and want to see the movie again.
  • Cinderella — Gorgeous.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — Hawkeye!!
  • Mockingjay Part 2 — Um.
  • Beyond the Mask — EPIC!!! ❤

beyondthemaskDVDshelf

BLOGGING

87 Posts

I really discovered my love of blogging this last year, and started my Ishness posts, and just had a fun time.

My top viewed posts were:

ccakeFrom which I discern that people are unprepared for NaNo (always), and love movies (or characters), bookshelves, Christmas, and cupcakes (or possibly denial). Basically you, my blog readers, have your priorities in order. *thumbs up*

WordPress has a handy blog report showcase for the year which is fun. Take a look at my blog stats if you enjoy numbers like I do. XD

It says my top commenters were Sarah, Tracey, Christine, C.B., and Abi — thank you guys! And to every single person who reads this blog and who has commented (even just once) a heartfelt thank you. ❤ You make my day every time. ^_^

WRITING

Over 100,000 Words

DRcoverishR&RI wrote an entire novella and two whole short stories (and a couple fanfictions) — namely:

KW2coverPSilverForestCoverFinalAnd worked on several other books:

  • 2. The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (mostly this one)
  • The Silver Forest (and this one)
  • 0.5. Child of Kedran’s Wood
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood
  • 4 The Writer of Kedran’s Wood
  • Heartseeker
  • The Other Half of Everything (snippets)

S&Scover4

OHEcoverI was attacked by several new plotbunnies that I adore and can’t wait to write, most notably:

  • The Other Half of Everything
  • The Siren and the Skyship

My Kedran’s Wood series exploded into several different books/novellas/short stories.

starrellianicon

My epic fantasy series the Starrellian Saga is taking shape in a new and exciting way as I reimagine all of the threads into a different sort of book structure.

A few other exciting things:

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***

PonyFrom the start of the year when I was followed by a pony from the post office, through seeing my first stage play, spontaneously going on a few roadtrips, being a NaNo Municipal Liaison for the third time, all the way to spending my last days of the year frantically editing a novella under a deadline for the first time . . . it’s been a very interesting year!

With my new word (Joy) in hand, I look forward to what 2016 holds!

I haven’t made specific writing/reading goals yet. I’m on a semi-hiatus from writing for a bit, so we’ll see what happens after that… I’m currently leaving my options open. 🙂

How was your 2015? I wish you all a truly fantastic 2016!