Tolkien Celebration

Well, dear Reader, the month-long SilmAwards is over and today we close out the celebrations with an online celebration of the Lord of the Rings’ 63rd Birthday!

(Though Tolkien began working on the larger epic to accompany the Hobbit as early as 1917… so this year marks 100 years since the very beginning of this epic adventure tale that would usher in a new era of fantasy fiction for the modern age!)

Before we get started, however, I would like to take a moment to announce the WINNER of the ONE GRAND PRIZE TO RULE THEM ALL!

1 Grand Prize To Rule Them All (1)

Congratulations, korty365@gmail.com! *throws confetti and serves cupcakes* You should be receiving an email from me shortly to get your mailing address so that we can send you your prizes!

Some of you may remember that last year I posted about my Tolkien collection and the 27 signs that you might be an incurable Tolkien nerd

This year, I thought I would do a “Greatest Hits” compilation of my favorite moments from the books and the movies. In no particular order:

“…For you have come, and that was all the purpose of my message. And here you will stay., Gandalf the Grey, and rest from journeys. For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”

I looked then and saw that his robes, which ahd seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.

“I liked white better,” I said.

~The Fellowship of the Ring, The Council of Elrond

I wish that line had made it into the movie. It was always one of my favorites, because I just love Gandalf’s dry sarcasm. It’s so perfectly Gandalf.

At last Frodo spoke with hesitation. “I believed that you were a friend before the letter came,” he said, “or at least I wished to. you have frightened me several times tonight, but never in the way that servants of the Enemy would, or so I imagine. I think one of his spies would — well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.”

“I see,” laughed Strider. “I look foul and feel fair. Is that it?”

~The Fellowship of the Ring, Strider

Another of my favorite lines that somehow got left out of the movie… I know they referenced it, but in the book it is a little light-hearted moment between Frodo and Strider, and the beginning of their great friendship, as well as a moment that shows the absolute humility of Aragorn as he easily acknowledges that he isn’t much to look at. Something of that subtlety got lost in translation from page to screen.

“Here, my lad, I’ll take that! I did not ask you to handle it,” he cried, turning sharply and seeing Pippin coming up the steps, slowly, as if he were bearing a great weight. He went down to meet him and hastily took the dark globe from the hobbit, wrapping it in folds of his cloak. “I will take care of this,” he said. “It is not a thing, I guess, that Saruman would have chosen to cast away.”

~Gandalf, The Two Towers, The Voice of Saruman

Of course, this scene is very different in the movie… as they decided to insert the end of Saruman here, as well. But I enjoyed, again, Gandalf’s dry sense of humor shining through.

I know many will disagree with me, but The Two Towers was always my favorite of the trilogy. I would read it over and over again. Often I would pick it up and read it all by itself, without starting at Fellowship of the Ring or continuing on to Return of the King. I loved the rescue of Merry and Pippin, the Ents, the Battle at Helm’s Deep, and the daunting quest undertaken by Sam and Frodo… I loved their determination in the face of unimaginable odds, and the unsought-for help they found along the way in the form of Faramir.

The dear friendship between Merry and King Theoden… which was glossed over in the movie, but beautiful in the books.

Possibly my favorite moment from Return of the King – I remember the first time I saw the movie and just being completely overwhelmed by this unexpected moment of beauty juxtaposed with the darkness of the battle and Denethor’s rising despair.

The first half of the chapter “The Steward and the King” in The Return of the King, where we get to watch the beautiful love story blossom between Eowyn and Faramir… a love that heals both their hearts. I wish they had spent more time on them in the movie.

“I wished to be loved by another,” she answered. “But I desire no man’s pity.”

“That I know,” he said. “You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admiarable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle. Look at me, Eowyn!”

And Eowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: “Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Eowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you.”

This moment.

 

I always thought Peter Jackson got it right, ending the action of the movie here and skipping ahead to Frodo going to the Grey Havens. Growing up, I never cared for The Scouring of the Shire. To me it seemed like an unnecessary bit of drama at the end of an epic quest. I wanted the Hobbits to simply go home and enjoy the fact that they saved the Shire from all the hardship they endured on its behalf. I hated the fact that Tolkien forced them to go home and discover that all their efforts had not kept evil from touching their home, as had been their goal from the beginning. And the fact that Saruman and Wormtongue showed up again just… annoyed me.

However, I recently re-read the Lord of the Rings, and when I reached that part, I discovered that I was not so bothered by it as I had been when I was younger. I appreciated how that chapter illustrated in a poignant and powerful way all the growing up that these four hobbits had done. For them to be able to sweep in like champion knights, defeat a wizard of Saruman’s caliber, and free their people allowed the rest of the Hobbits to grow up a little, as well, and to really see the difference the journey had made… in a way that they never realized with Bilbo, who had just been “that odd hobbit who went off on an adventure and then spoiled his own funeral by coming home and demanding that we return all his things.”

But I did appreciate the way the movies ended, as well. For the big screen, I think they showed all the important subtexts in this moment better than they would have had they tried to follow the book through the Scouring.

I could go on, and on, and on… in fact, I think — now that I’ve started reminiscing — that it’s about time I rewatched the movies and reread the books again. It’s been a while. So, I’ll go do that.

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite quotes and moments from the books and/or movies, dear Reader?

And if you want to join the link-up, just post the URL of your own Tolkien-themed blog post in the linky list below!

 

~ jenelle

And the Most Nefarious Villain is….

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It is blacker than night in the large cavern where the final Silmaril will be presented. Those in attendance fidget nervously. They are here in spite of their better judgment. Memories of last year’s ceremony haunt the minds of anyone foolish enough to return… and yet… there is something about this particular award that draws even the most cautious, even the wisest. The charismatic pull of a truly evil villain cannot be completely denied. And so, despite the eerie setting and the solemn mood, the cavern is filled with onlookers.

But none of them are standing too near the dais. None, except for five dark forms, silhouetted by the eerie spotlights.

A tall figure strides up onto the stage, imposing and fearful in black robes. With every step, torches in their sconces flare to life, illuminating more of the cavern and its onlookers. His cowl is up, shading his face from view, though a large, steel crown can just be made out, and deep in the recesses of his hood are two pinpoints of gleaming malevolence.

“Good evening,” his voice flows out over the crowd, filling every shadow and bringing a hush to the silent murmurs. “I understand that you were expecting a different host this eve, but my lord was so displeased by his minions last year that he sent me in their stead. Since he cannot be here himself, he has placed his confidence in me. It just goes to show that you should never send a wizard to do a Ringwraith’s job!”

A tall, white bearded man strides confidently up to the mic. “Excuse me, to whom are you referring as a minion? Nobody told me there was a change in plans.”

“Begone, Saruman,” the Witch-King (for that is who stands before the crowd) waves a hand. “Stand not between the Nazgul and his microphone.”

Saruman stares at the Witch-King. “Last year’s debacle was not my fault. It was that hideous Gollum-creature. But he was turned to stone by Queen Jadis, the White Witch, and cannot interfere again this year. There will be no repeat. Especially since Her Majesty declined the invitation to be at tonight’s proceedings once she was informed that she would be required to leave her wand behind.”

There is a violent hiss and a thick, long-necked creature with a reptilian head shifts in the shadows behind the Witch-King. Saruman flinches back slightly.

“Thou hadst thy chance, wizard,” the Witch-King snarls. “This year it is my turn. Or wouldst thou enjoy being borne to the houses of lamentation by my friend, here, where thy shriveled mind can be consumed by the Great Lidless Eye? Believe me, should my Master be capable of presiding over these ceremonies in his physical form, thou wouldst cower before him as is his due!”

Saruman’s mouth opens and closes a few times. Then he hisses at the Witch-King. “I hoped to vindicate myself here this night, but you have robbed me of the chance. I hate you!” He spits and whirls, storming from the stage in cold fury.

The Witch-King is unperturbed. “Shall we continue?” he asks. He raises his long, berobed arm. “Will the five competitors please rise?”

There is a slight shuffling and then the five forms standing before the dais all…. stand up straighter. The Witch-King does not seem to realize that nobody is sitting… there are no chairs. After last year’s hubbub, we decided to take no chances on placing obstacles in anyone’s way should the need to flee arise. There is a single long table along the wall where refreshments are available, but nobody seems to be willing to sample the offerings there. Perhaps it was a mistake to take the theme of tonight’s award so far… I can understand why no one would want to try the “poisoned apple pie” or the food labelled “feast of Ramandu” (in my defense, it wasn’t the feast that caused the seven lords to fall into a cursed sleep) … but the brownies and punch are particularly good and I’m not sure why everyone is avoiding them. I worked hard on… oh, sorry, the Witch-King is speaking again.

“All five of you should be quite proud, this vote was extremely close.” The Witch-King pauses briefly. “Only eight votes separated the first and fourth places,” the pinpoints of light deep within the dark hood grow brighter with admiration. “With 8% of the vote, in fifth place… the loser…” he cannot keep the contempt from his tone. “The Keeper from Entwined!”

The Keeper’s shoulders slump, but he turns to wave a hand at the audience. A few boos escape into the darkness.

“In fourth place, Death-in-Life from the Tales of Goldstone Wood!”

The Dragon’s seven-foot tall skeletal frame gathers the shadows about him, but he gives a dignified nod.

“In third place, Captain Hook from Peter Pan!”

The hook-handed pirate’s confident grin turns into a sneer, but he sweeps off his feathered hat and bows with a flourish. He is so debonaire and charming that a few in the audience find themselves clapping, despite his known villainy.

“In second place, Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles! Congratulations, my lady.” The words of praise sound like a back-handed compliment as they emanate from deep within the hood.

The woman with curly, auburn hair turns to face the crowd. Her lips are the color of blood, and her eyes are as black as night. She smiles, though the expression resembles a grimace more than anything else. The audience fidgets with discomfort beneath her gaze.

“And in first place, by but a single vote…. SHIFT the Ape from The Chronicles of Narnia! Please come forward and claim your Silmaril. The powers that be have decided that we villains are not worthy of one of their golden awards, and our Silmaril is faded… but I am sure it is still worth something, even if it is not as brilliant or as powerful as the one they presented to their Hero…” the Witch-King spits the word “hero” with a snarl. If we could see his lips, we are certain they would be curled.

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There is a hush. The audience freezes as the hideous ape climbs up onto the stone platform and approaches the microphone. With one hand, he clutches the mic, while stretching out his other hand to receive the precious Silmaril.

“THIS IS INTOLERABLE!” The tall form of Death-in-Life shifts and grows, filling the cavern as he transforms into a magnificent dragon. “An ape? A miserable APE has received this honor?” His eyes burn with cunning as they sweep across the crowd, and light on Queen Levana. “My lady,” he whispers, his poisonous breath wafting across her face, “shall we let this hateful verdict stand? One vote, says the robed-one. A single vote has stolen thy victory from thy grasp. Will you allow such robbery?”

Queen Levana stares into the Dragon’s flickering eyes, then, subtly, her form alters. The glamour drops and reveals a horrible visage. Scars cover her face, sealing one eye shut, and traveling down her neck and over her shoulder. Her mouth pulls back in a terrible snarl. “No,” she hisses. “I shall not tolerate it. That Silmaril should be MINE!” She ends with a scream and together she and the Dragon lash out towards the Witch-King, who reels back at the unexpected attack, his cloak billowing. The reptilian head of the Nazgul darts forward to defend its master. However, the Dragon was expecting such a move and his serpentine form lunges forward, clashing with the Nazgul, poison and flame pouring from his hungry jaws.

The audience, who had begun backing away already, flees into the night, their screams of terror echoing out across the hillside. Within the cavern, chaos has erupted. Queen Levana strides over to Hook and The Keeper, and at her word they fall beneath her spell and advance upon the Witch-King.

The Nazgul’s shriek changes into a death gurgle and the Dragon’s head comes up from his fallen prey, his eyes fixated upon the robed Ringwraith.

The Lord of the Nazgul glares down at them and a harsh laugh emerges from his throat. “No living man may hinder me!” his voice booms out as the shrieks of his steed pierce the air.

“Fool!” Queen Levana and the Dragon scream at him in unison. “I am NO MAN!” Together they converge upon the Witch-King with vengeance in their hearts.

In all the commotion, Shift still stands on the podium, one hand gripping the mic, the other closed tightly around the Silmaril. He looks down at it, and then up at the villains surrounding him. He is no fool. In cunning, greed, and deceit, he knows he is the greatest villain ever to roam the fantasy realms. But in physical prowess and magical power… well, it is plain to see that he is overmatched in the presence of these other entities. If he could just talk to them, perhaps he might persuade them to fix their sights on the creators of this obviously rigged system. Why should heroes and councillors and silly bards and their ilk be given Silmarils at all? Perhaps, with their combined might, the villains could rise to the top and rule them all next year… but as The Dragon breathed a gout of flame at the Nazgul and the Witch-King of Angmar raised a sword high above Captain Hook’s head… Shift comes to the realization that nobody in the cavern is in the mood to listen to a villainous scheme just now. Perhaps later, when they have all cooled down… perhaps then he will be able to persuade them to listen to his plan over a few tankards of honeyed mead. Until then, he decides to make himself scarce and leave the fighting to those more qualified to participate in such sport. With a little shuffle — he is extremely old, after all — Shift tucks the gleaming Silmaril into the pocket of his vest and limps out of the cavern and into the darkness of the night. The sounds of ferocious battle behind him make his hideous face stretch into an evil, toothy grin. When those others are finished with their competition, if they can be made to listen to reason… what an ARMY they would make!

***

“Oh dear! I do hope that nothing terrible comes of that,” Jenelle mutters, much later. She was at the ceremony, but ducked into a hidden secret passageway when the ruckus started. Once the villains wore themselves out and decided to go down into the village for a pint or two, Jenelle crept out of the passageway to tidy up. She gazes around, glad that there is little to do, after the decision to eliminate chairs and other niceties in favor of open pathways to the exits. She turns off the mic and puts out the torches in buckets of water. She shakes her head slightly as her InterFiction Badge begins to gleam a faint red. That is not the color it usually turns when she is being called to do an interview…. no… that is the color of trouble in the FictionVerse. Jenelle sighs. Coming so close on the heels of tonight’s awards, she can only guess at what havoc Shift and the others might be wreaking. She is tired, but she knew that this job would come with long hours and being on-call 24/7. With a weary grimace, she clasps her hand around the badge. A moment later, she winks out of view, leaving the darkened cavern empty… until next year….

***

What do you think, dear Reader? Did the winners you expected take home their prizes? Did any of the winners catch you off-guard? Either way, I hope you have enjoyed the second annual Silmarillion Awards as much as I have, dear Reader! However, the festivities do not end here. Tomorrow we celebrate the 63rd Birthday of The Lord of the Rings! Feel free to join in either with your own blog posts revolving around topics like “Why I love LOTR” or “What LOTR means to me” or just “Random Tolkien Trivia” or whatever else you can think of! Also, the Winner of the ONE GRAND PRIZE TO RULE THEM ALL will be announced tomorrow, so make sure you come on back for that!

Until tomorrow!

~ jenelle

Beautiful People: The Author

I was going to post this tomorrow, but I think it would be better today, as tomorrow I will be out and about far too much! It’s been a while since I participated in a Beautiful People post, but I thought this one might be fun, since it’s a little different. Instead of answering questions about a particular character, this month’s post is questions about the author!

Visit Sky @ Further Up and Further In or Cait @ Paperfury to join the BP linkup!

How do you decide which project to work on?

So many story ideas… so little time

Right now, that’s simple. I decide which project to work on based on my publishing schedule. I am working around the clock these days to get Minstrel’s Call polished and ready to release into the wild. There are a few steps left in the process, but we are nearing the home stretch! When I send this manuscript off for the final proof-read, I will probably take a quick break and work on a short story for the next Fellowship of Fantasy anthology. I have not been able to participate in the first two, but would really like to get in on the next one… especially as I love the theme and have a few ideas for the story. Don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I am pretty certain it will be a short story that takes place in the world of The Minstrel’s Song! So, Minstrel’s Call isn’t the FINAL story in that world, it seems!

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

Oh gracious! Seriously? I have no idea. What do you mean by “finish,” exactly? First sentence of the rough draft to polished and published novel? About a decade, apparently. Though it does appear that I am getting faster the more I do this. If you just mean, “How long does it take you to write a rough draft” the answer is a bit easier: 4 – 12 months, depending on what else I have going on in my life.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

Not really. I just sit down and write. If I had to go through an entire warm-up routine, I wouldn’t have time to write anything! I barely have time to write as it is!

What time of day do you write best?

In the afternoon when the kids are down for quiet time, or in the evenings after the kids are in bed. Sometimes I can get going early in the morning before anyone else gets up… but I’m not a morning person. Like, at all. So that doesn’t happen very often.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

Um… I really don’t know how to answer this question. Style is a hard thing to really put my finger on. I would guess that my style is similar to any author I enjoy reading, as I aspire to write novels I would want to read. But… I don’t know. Maybe this is one I should just throw back to you, dear Reader! Does my style resemble any other authors you can think of?

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I’ve always been a story-teller. Make-believe was my favorite thing to play when I was growing up. I wanted to create vast adventures and then go on them… I think it was just natural that I started writing some of those adventures down. I always thought that if I tried to write for more than just myself, however, it would become odious to me. But when I was given the incentive to try, I found that I loved it. It’s not easy, but I think that’s part of why I love it. I love that with every single thing I write, I learn something about my craft and I improve. I hope that every story I write is better than the last one.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

Hm. Probably Stone Curse. That was very difficult, partially because I had to write it in such a short period of time, and partially because I wrote it out of a very tough place I was in at the time. It had been an extremely rough year, and I poured a lot of that into the rough draft. Not all of those emotions made it into the final, but it was definitely a story I wrestled with constantly while writing the first couple of drafts.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

Yes. My sci-fi/mystery novel is one I am super excited to write. But it’s on the back-burner for now, partially because I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle quite such a big genre-switch, and partially because I have other books waiting in line before it. But once Turrim Archive is finished, I am going to head straight to that one. I’ve written a few snippets for it, already, and I am very eager to work on it some more. Letting it simmer is good, though.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

Well, looking back at the post I did for Beautiful People in January, apparently my goals were:

  • Finish editing and publish Minstrel’s Call.
  • Finish the rough draft of Turrim Archive book #2.
  • Begin rough draft of Turrim Archive book #3.
  • Perhaps… MAYBE… polish up my Cinderella retelling and try to get it ready for publication. This is the long shot. We shall see.

So far, I have finished the rough draft of Turrim 2: Mantles of Oak and Iron.

I am in the midst of editing Minstrel’s Call, but I do not think I will be able to hit a 2017 release date. I will know more in a couple of weeks.

I probably will begin the rough draft of Turrim 3 before the year is out.

Probably not going to get to the Cinderella retelling until next year… especially since this Fellowship of Fantasy opportunity has arisen.

But all in all, I’d say I’m doing pretty well on those goals I set… hopefully I can continue working towards achieving them in the second half of the year.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

I can’t pick just one… and these both kind of just sum it up so perfectly… the complexity of taking an idea and putting it down on paper, then polishing it to perfection… versus the intriguing nature of a brand-new idea that isn’t fully fleshed out yet… but that I want to sit down and start brainstorming for… and Daniel Jackson. I mean… he’s my favorite. If you need me, I’ll be…. over there… *runs off to rewatch all ten seasons of Stargate: SG-1*

 

And that’s all for Beautiful People this month! Hope you enjoyed it!

In other news…

The Silmarillion Awards continue! Check out the graphic below to see where each presentation is being hosted! So far this week we’ve attended the Most Epic Heroine ceremony. Today you can check out the hilarious Most Mischievous Imp ceremony. And tomorrow we will see who has won the MOST MAGNIFICENT DRAGON Silmaril… which seems appropriate for the middle of #DragonWeek! There is a dragon-related giveaway going on, as well, so make sure you check that out.

Don’t forget to check back later this week to find out who will win this year’s Most Loyal Friend and Most Nefarious Villain Silmarils! And then, Saturday we will announce the winner of the One Grand Prize To Rule Them All and celebrate the 63rd birthday of Lord of the Rings!

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~ jenelle