Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wonderful Christmas, Although today is kind of a bummer

We had a wonderful Christmas! Everybody got a ton of presents, and we started opening at about 8:30 yesterday morning. The kids were finished in about thirty minutes, but the adults must have taken an hour.
I got a lot of really great books, so you can expect some book reviews soon! I also got a new watch, the complete recordings of the Fellowship of the Ring, (every single not you hear in the extended edition is on three discs, with a bonus DVD for something I haven't watched yet.) and a set of dark chocolate bars with weird flavors, like Dark Chocolate with Green Tea and Dark Chocolate with Orange and Lemon flavor. Andy and Alissa got me an ipod nano, of which I was absolutely excited and crazy about! All of my music is already on it.

I ordered two CD's yesterday too, so I would have some new for listening to. Alissa got a duplicate CD so I bought it from her and put that on my ipod. I still need to listen to it. I ordered a Bob Dylan CD and The Village soundtrack yesterday, because I want both and the more music I can get on my ipod, the better.
All of the music I know have on it equals about 1 or 2 gigs, so I don't know how many more I can fit on there. I may have to get rid of the songs I don't listen to very much eventually, and make room for more music on it. It should hold a thousand to two thousand songs, so it is very exciting.

Over the holidays I also discovered a new book store called the Book Inn, which is a cozy, neato place with cheap and sometimes rare books. I came across a 1978 edition of The Two Towers for $5. I also saw a really nice hardback of Ben-Hur which may have been a copy from the the mid-1900's or so that was twenty-five.

So overall it was a great Christmas, but right now I feel kind of sad because everybody has left. We never get to see them, and it was maybe one of the hardest things ever to see them go. I don't think people really know the meaning of the word sad until they experience it. Jason and Shannon are moving in with us for a couple of weeks though, so that should be a nice pick-me-up. Also, some friends are coming to spend the afternoon with me, and that will be fun, because they are good at cheering up.

Merry Christmas!
As for the Christmas posts, there will probably still be one or two of those.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Well, Christmas is going as well as it can with nearly everybody sick. Andy came down with a stomach bug, so I don't know if he and Alissa will be able to stay the night and open presents in the morning, even though Andy says, "I won't feel bad enough to not open presents."

I feel better, even though it seems like I have bouts where all I feel like doing is laying or sitting down. Last night we had two adventures, one of which I slept through. The doorbell rang, and Jason and Brian answered it to find a policemen there, asking about a light that was on in Brian's car, who thought that somebody might be trying to break into it. Early this morning I was awake, (just barely so that I was in the twilight zone of my brain. Maybe in body too. Kind of crazy, but anyway...I heard this knocking, and it was going on for a long time. I think I must have vaguely thought something like, "Hmm. Somebody is knocking on the door." I'm not joking. I was hot and sweaty though ( I think I also thought that maybe one of the kids was doing it ) and then I woke up enough to realize that somebody really was knocking on the door, and it might be a weirdo who had bad intentions. I was still half asleep though. Pretty soon after I came to these conclusions, the phone rang. I got up and answered, and Dad said, "Anna, we got locked out last night, can you let us in?"
Mom and Dad have been staying in the Apartment in our backyard since we have a whole lot of company and not enough room for them in the house, and last night, they were somehow locked out. Actually that was early this morning, when it was still dark out. I let them in, and they explained it all to me. It was pretty weird and...well, one of those alien experiences. I gotta go, but Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Update

All of my family are now here, and I am having a blast. There is one drawback...I lost my voice completely. I have a sore throat with mucas all over the place and larengitis. I sound like I'm wheezing and whispering all the time, kind of like Minnie Mouse.
However, we're all very excited about Christmas. There is a TON of presents under the tree (meaning probably sixty or more) and I am dying to find out what they are. Mom and Dad didn't tell me what my big presents were going to be this year, and I didn't get to pick them, so there are at least three that are a mystery to me. One of them is a box, and I think the other one is a book. I don't know what's in the box. Jason and Shannon brought a bunch of presents, and later I"m going to snoop so I can find mine and figure out what's under the paper! All the presents but one have come in; Nanah (my grandmother) was getting three books and only two have come in, so she might have one of them late. Jason's present cut it VERY close by coming in two days ago.

Okay. Check-in like, twelve hours later for all I know. I feel worse about my throat now, and I'm staying home from church tomorrow. Tomorrow, with or without church, will still be busy, as some friends are coming over in the afternoon and I'll be sleeping late and showering and stuff in the morning. At least, I hope I can sleep late. Rest, be lazy, recuperate my immune system, which, with all of these adorable but sick kiddos, has crashed. Better my immune system than the computer, I suppose. Immune systems can be built back up easier than computers.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Short Spurts, Christmas, Wow it's Late!!

All of the above. I just wanted to comment and ramble a little....tomorrow Brian and Holly and the kids are arriving here, and they are staying until after Christmas. I'm SOOOOO excited!!!! I can't wait for them to get here..we're all very excited about it.

Weird thought and truth that hasn't anything to do with what I just said:
I've been going through spurts of Tolkien and Leven Thumps. What was the other book I read before....? Can't remember. I just remember that last month I was suddenly inspired and started ravenously reading The Fellowship, and I just did the same with the Hobbit. Let's hope that the Two Towers is as lucky! I hope it is, because I want to finish it so I can read the Return of the King. I'm also getting a bunch of Lewis and Tolkien stuff for Christmas and I'll be buying some things afterwards!

It is very late for me now, as I usually go to bed by eleven or much before these days. I wanted to finish the Hobbit, and then I wanted to blog it, and then I wanted to make these random comments on spurts of Tolkien, update on Christmas life, and how late it is and how I really could have skipped writing this post. So I'll sign off again and post soon, hopefully. I have a lot to do tomorrow, but perhaps reading and writing won't be in vain! (that means reading and thinking about writing, which is almost the same as actually doing it)

The Hobbit

In case none of you know this by now, Tolkien is officially my favorite author. I have a confession to make that is really very embarrassing. I have only read one of his books twice, I never finished the Return of the King, and I haven't read anything but The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Don't think the less of me please! I really feel awful about it, and I'm really not joking. However, I can still say that Tolkien is my favorite author, and I am looking forward to reading his other novels and stories and histories and things next year. I just finished The Hobbit for the first time...History Geek, don't you say a word! Or Abby or anybody else that knows this dirty secret either. I feel terrible about it, and again, I cross my heart that I am not joking.
I was enthralled. I think that it was on Saturday that I made up my mind to finish it before my brother got here for Christmas. It's Monday night, and the majority of the reading was done yesterday. I was at chapter seven, and yesterday, on the way to church I began reading Chapter Seven (titled Queer Lodgings) and I could not put it down. I was enthralled. I could not wait to finish it, to hear more about all the talking beasts and the hobbit's adventures with the dwarves and Gandalf, and all the other things that happened in it. The Hobbit is shorter, less like an epic and really not as good as The Lord of the Rings, but it is still a wonderful book. Tolkien fans need to have it in their library. It is quaint and underlined with humor throughout the entire book; along with a delicate sort of mystery that Tolkien wisely kept guarded....the intelligence of beasts and birds. Birds talk, and it becomes obvious that many animals can talk, and there is even a shape shifter or 'skin-changer' as Tolkien calls him, which came as quite the surprise to me. I am no longer too afraid of having talking animals in my books because Tolkien did in his. (Lewis doesn't count, because I rather think he has too many in the Narnia books. I probably prefer Tolkien to Lewis, but it's REALLY close.) Queer Lodgings may have provided me with the most inspiration for my book, but it was still wonderful to read the whole thing. I think that the following chapters are my favorite:

An Unexpected Party

Roast Mutton
Riddles in the Dark

Out of the Frying-Pan and into the Fire
Queer Lodgings
Inside Information

I had a wonderful time reading the Hobbit. I can certainly say five stars without guilt; it encouraged my own writing so much and it provided me with many hours of delight in reading about Bilbo's adventures with the dwarves and Gandalf.
If you haven't read it, than do! Even though it is not the book the Lord of the Rings is, it is definitely worth. (BTW, if you haven't read either The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, start with The Hobbit. If you really want to go overboard. read the Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and then The Lord of the Rings trilogy in order.)

Future Grace

I have just finished Future Grace by John Piper. I'm not going to say much, because I'm not a theologian and if I were I wouldn't be a very good one, probably. I enjoyed the book a lot. I understand some things I didn't before and I recommend it. I was told that he gets to the point in this book better than in some others. Chapter thirty was especially interesting and revealing for me, and I read it almost hungrily. It has thirty-one chapters, like The Screwtape Letters, so that if you read one chapter a day you can read it in a month. I plan on reading it again next year and taking notes that time. Personal thoughts, you know. It does tend to give something to think about. I am looking forward now to reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, which is my next theological endeavor for reading. I'm not sure when I'm going to start it, though, but I also plan on reading the Great Divorce by Lewis.

About the Christmas Posts, sorry I haven't had anything new to report. We have been too busy getting ready for company to watch Christmas movies! I still plan on having the special one for Christmas day, but I'm still not sure when I'll write it. If you're looking for another Christmas movie to watch, though, try While You Were Sleeping. Though not strictly Christmas, it takes place around that time. It's a good movie, and really funny. If you wonder what I'm like, watch Lucy...I act like that sometimes when I'm meeting people, or even people I'm really close to! I'm not very good at communicating with my tongue all the time. But don't take all of it to heart...I said sometimes. I'm not always smooth in talking. Sometimes idiotically bumpy, actually, but at least you can't tell when I write.
Anyway, Merry Christmas! I'll probably be posting later with a new book review concerning Tolkien.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christopher Paolini: Philip Pullman

A few months ago I was told that Pullman was an atheist and that his books were dangerous. Even though I knew this, I never thought about it. Pullman and Paolini have talked, and in friendly tones. There is a link on Paolini's site to the trio talk show or whatever it was. There's a link to the site under the poll, under Writing sites.
I've also found out that Paolini's elves are atheists and vegans, unlike Tolkien's, despite the fact that Tolkien was one of his influences. I just wanted to tell the world about this. I still like Paolini's books, and I'll enjoy watching him to see what happens with future books. I'll probably at least finish reading the Inheritance Cycle to see what happens. After that, I'll have to see where he goes. Is this going to be a young Philip Pullman or just an atheist that isn't set on 'killing God'?
Lewis started out as an atheist. Maybe there is hope for Paolini.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard; J.K. Rowling, Billionaire, Literary Genius, Artist

Today while I was trying to figure out some orders gone amiss for Christmas on Amazon, I saw a an article about J.K. Rowling. I clicked on the link and saw that she had made seven copies of the Tales of Beedle the Bard, and those are the only copies in the world, and Amazon was in possession of at least one of them. I bookmarked it and I have just returned to the article to read it; I wasn't disappointed. Despite Rowling's crooked views about the world, she is a very talented author with a vivid imagination. She is the richest woman in the world, and the first writer to make that much cash on writing only. I don't expect I'll ever be as popular as she is, but I can certainly hope, wish, and dream that someday I'll be as talented of a writer, and that somebody might want to buy odd little books which I hand wrote (or typed and then scribbled all over) and that those books might be shadows from literary pieces of work. Rowling has taken every fantasy that there is, or very nearly has, and made it her own, and created new creatures and magical objects. And now, she has made a the wizard culture more vivid and real than it ever was, because now, wizard and witchlings' fairy-tales are in print. I can see similarities here of her and Tolkien: Rowling and Tolkien both made up new worlds, or recreated old mythologies and made them their own. Both made up intriguing characters, and both have made tales that are to their characters what the stories of those characters are to us. I'm finally beginning to understand the meaning of; write and read as much as you can!
How I've mistreated and used that phrase! But never mind that now. I suggest going to the link to check out the real Tales of Beedle the Bard: it was worth it! There's a lot of pictures on Amazon of this unique little book, and they are going to add to the article often, so check it out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Creature called a Story

Dear Reader,
this blog post is to inform you of something I have just figured out, even though it has been building up for months. It may be scatterbrained and it may ramble on a bit, but in any case I hope that you'll be able to understand what I am saying.
I have been keeping a writer's notebook that consists of more than names for a very long time now....or at least it seems like a long time. Since earlier this year; probably...oh never mind. In my writer's notebook, you will find Story Ideas, Character Sketches, Names, Creature Ideas, and a whole lot more which I won't get into right now. I finished my first notebook a few months ago, and I have been keeping another one, which seemed to get crammed full with Story Ideas, even worse than the other one. I keep notes on all of my book ideas there, and a lot more. Friends have scribbled in it, little words of wisdom. I think one of the quotes was actually mine, even though a friend put his name on it. :)
In my new writer's notebook, all those new story ideas were much better and much easier to think about than the others, in the fact that they got my creativity engine revved up. Begging to be put into drive....but of course I didn't, I only wrote some notes on it. I used to think that every good idea I had had to be put in the Dwalyn stories. If it was possible to make them fit than I had to put them there. Zebras, horses, dogs, talking cats! I tried to make it all fit. It took me several months to realize that....those ideas will fit somewhere else. That's probably one of the reasons the story isn't going smoothly. I'm cramming in too much; too many characters which don't even belong in the story. Twilight, a nymph, can't possibly fit, because she is a water nymph in a world which begs for Norse dominance. She just doesn't fit. You can't have both nymphs and elves. Not like that.
I have several new story ideas formulating in my head now; one is a fantasy, the other a beast-fable. One is a fantasy which I think will take to minstrels and nymphs more kindly. The other...I haven't figured it out yet. I only have two definite characters, and both are already wonderful! I can't wait to get more ideas for it. But now that I have three stories to provide ideas for, the Dwalyn books are going to go through yet another drastic change. I let Harry Potter get to me too much. There was too much funkiness in it; I won't tell you all about it now, but I'm sure that some of this will appear in future stories. I'm completely redoing nearly everything I ever created for the Dwalyn books. Too much in it wasn't consistent. Minstrels and elves! Talking cats and great horses, marrons and water nymphs. I was cramming in too much, and I just realized that. I'm not going to say that next year the book will be finished by this time, but I can certainly hope! I'm going to do a lot of studying around and right after Christmas. I have some cash, and I think I'm going to buy some good books. I'm going to study Norse and work on notes for my own mythology, get to know my characters, and the plot, and I think those other two stories need the same. I'm also co-writing a book with my cousin next year, and we've just barely started, and I might be co-writing another book, and there is yet another project possibility. Stories are wonderful creatures, aren't they?
So that's the writing game plan, which I hope will stay like it is for a while. This, of course means that my outline is probably nearly useless, and I'll have to do it all over again, but I'm not using the thirty day method this time. I might try that for another book, or re-design it to fit my own books. You can expect updates on the Dwalyn books, but for now, the other two are going to stay under lock and key.
PS I don't know when I'll post again, but there will be a few more Christmas posts, and expect a special for Christmas day. I don't know when I'll do it, but I plan on it!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Polar Express

Tonight, ABC Family's 25 days of Christmas movie is the Polar Express. I have not actually read the book all the way through, but I understand the movie's story was added to and developed into a larger plot, not like the story book legend type that is in the actual book written, by the way, by Chris Van Allsburg, the writer of Jumanji and Zathura. It is not a bit like those two, and I think it is considered more popular and perhaps a better story than the others. The movie is pretty good for an animated Christmas movie. There are some really good action parts in it, and seeing it in the theater was like actually being there, some of the time.
Tom Hanks plays most of the characters, including the little boy, who's name is not given in the movie, the conductor, the hobo, (my favorite character) Mr. C (Santa Clause) and the little boy's dad. He may have played a few others. The hobo is by far the most mysterious, and oddly enough, he does give the impression that he is a ghost, and that very word is intimidating, whether he is friendly or not. This is an odd trait for a Christmas movie...or at least I thought so, until all of a sudden I wondered...just now, as I am writing this. I have begun to wonder this Christmas how much fantasy and legend is actually behind traditional American Christmas. Santa Clause is referred to as a jolly old elf in 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. In one of our popular Christmas tunes, the last part of a verse goes like this:

They'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago.....

Ghost stories. The movie, although cheerful, funny, absolutely Christmasy, but while traveling to the North Pole, I got the idea that they were crossing this amazingly bleak and dangerous winter frontier that was full of secrets, and ghosts, and the only comfort was that there was this one glimmer of hope and sanity and civilization in that train. I think I read that the hobo was actually a ghost (at one point in the movie he asks the boy who learns to believe: "Do you believe in ghosts?" Believing Boy fervently shakes his head, and the hobo replies, "Interesting."

This was the middle of the movie, where it seemed the most mysterious. It grows more cheerful when they arrive at the North Pole, and we get to see wise-cracking elves, which were especially charming, as they were half the size of children. In most movies and popular stories, they are made out to be the size of children. I like the idea of them being super duper small. Plus, I really like the part with elves handling the reindeer, and the long harness/rein thing that has silver bells all over it. Like, within 1/10 of an inch of each other. That many bells! All ringing. Mr. C was pretty cool too. He seemed to be almost twice the size of most humans, and that was interesting too, just like the elves being smaller than most movies and stories.
In short, this is a really great Christmas movie, despite the dead-eye syndrome.


This film is absolutely funny and absolutely Christmas. I never tire of watching it, and watch it all year. Buddy is a wonderful character, full of love and compassion for good things, like Christmas and the Christmas Spirit. He also loves Santa Clause. In the beginning of the film, Buddy is told that not everybody believes in Santa Clause. When he inquires, he is told, "Well, there's a rumor going around that the parents do it." "That's...that's ridiculous! Parents couldn't do all that in one night...and what about the cookies? I suppose the parents eat those too?!" There's plenty more humor where that came from.

I'm sure we've all seen ELF. Who hasn't? Buddy is oblivious to his being human, and as such, he doesn't understand why he doesn't fit in at the North Pole, where he was raised. When he goes to New York City to find his biological father, we see just how naive Buddy is, and how funny that makes it. He's purely innocent; and appalled when he finds out that his father is on the naughty list.

However, the movie doesn't ever say why we even have Christmas, what the real meaning of Christmas is, even though it puts great emphasis on the Christmas Spirit, which is, according to the movie what Christmas is really about.
The movie has a few corny moments at the beginning...badly animated North Pole creatures and a snowman, which just adds to the movie. It also has good music in it, that is both light-hearted, and at some points, almost Homeric and Christmasy at the same time; much like the Polar Express Movie. It's a really funny, clean movie about Christmas and family. It should be watched every year with a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, eggnog, or hot chocolate. :D

Narnia Christmas......Tolkien's Christmas

The other day, I was thinking to myself about Tolkien and Lewis and Tolkien's Christmas book, The Letters of Father Christmas, and then thinking that it was too bad that Lewis had not written a book about Christmas, and then I realized that, even though The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is not classified as Christmas fiction, much of it takes place in winter and there is a Christmas in it!

So, reading The second Narnia book would be a good piece of fiction for Christmas time.

Also, The Letters of Father Christmas look like a good piece of writing....I kind of wish I had those to read. Oh well....I'm planning on ordering them right after Christmas. I've decided that I should read all of Tolkien's works. I'm actually really excited about the Histories of Middle-Earth, The Silmarillion, The History of the Hobbit, and the Children of Hurin. He has numerous essays and short stories too, plus a short book he wrote for his son called Roverandom. I'm excited about that one. So, for fans of Tolkien and Lewis, The Letters of Father Christmas the Lion are good books to read this season.

A Christmas Carol, or Scrooge

We started the musical Scrooge last night, but we haven't finished it yet. It is very funny, well acted out, the music isn't so bad, and hey. It's Charles Dickens.

Besides watching adaptions of the Christmas Carol around Christmas time, I bet the original story would be good to read. No, I haven't read it...I haven't read a lot of classics. I'm a bit of a expert in modern fantasy, rather. :D

Also, in 2009, I heard that Jim Carrey is coming out with an adaption of the Christmas Scrooge. I'm really looking forward to that!

Little Women

This is another Christmas movie that we have watched this year. Of course, this isn't strictly a Christmas movie, but it begins at Christmas, and later in the movie there is a Christmas, in which Mr. March comes home. The music alone in this movie was absolutely amazing; I've always enjoyed it, ever since I actually watched it all the way through many years ago. I think the best part of the movie is from the beginning up until the second Christmas. I didn't much like the last half, when Jo grows up. I just noticed the other day when we watched it that Frederick was criticizing Jo's fairy, fantasy, and adventure stories. I don't know if I like that. My consolation, though, is that Frederick said that "There is nothing in here of the woman that I am privileged to know," meaning that Jo was not writing from her heart as she should have been, or if you like it put this way better, that she wasn't writing the stories for herself really, or writing them because she was interested in it; but because she thought those would sell best. Something along those lines anyway. I would be disappointed, though if I found that some people don't think fantasy is a worthy genre of literature.

I like the beginning best because there are no complications of love, only late childhood, as it were, and Jo making up her stories and them hanging out in the attic acting them out. I also don't think I much like the older Amy. I prefer Kirsten Dunst.
Still, it is a good movie to watch around Christmas, and it is a really good movie with good music and good acting.

I haven't read the book, but I think I'll try to read it sometime next year. I think it's more of a Winter book, not a Christmas one. :)

The Shop Around the Corner

I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up with my Christmas blogging! The other night we watched The Shop Around the Corner, which is like an old version of You've Got Mail.

Like You've Got Mail, this isn't strictly a Christmas movie, although it takes place around Christmas time. I'm not very good at reviewing these movies that speak for themselves. This is definitely one of my favorite James Stewart movies though! Although this probably isn't his best movie, it is one of his best (I think his near best would It's A Wonderful Life!) and this movie is associated with Christmas, just like It's A Wonderful Life is. It's another good old Black and White. I had forgotten how well both James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan acted in this film. A reviewer said of it that the meeting in the cafe was perhaps the best in American film, and for people who look, this movie is full of hidden moments with hidden meaning and mystery. A GREAT Christmas movie! A must watch.

BTW, the 1949 remake is a must NOT watch, with Judy Garland. It was AWFUL. We watched about fifteen minutes, then watched something else. If you want to watch a remake, watch You've Got Mail.

The Golden Compass

I know that many of my readers are at least attracted to fantasy, even if it isn't their first choice. Fantasy is my first choice for a good novel; I have friends that like fantasy books; I'm probably the most fanatical about them though. The Golden Compass is a tempting participant in the world of fantasy. The trailers and glittering posters in the theater; the books.....polar bears, monkeys. Who wouldn't want to read or watch this stuff?

I for one, would, if it weren't totally anti-Christian, but it is. So I don't. Pullman is completely against Christianity and "killing God" as he puts it. These are dangerous books. I'm not going to go to a lot of particulars here, about the plot and everything, because I haven't read or watched the movie. The links below are good reviews of the movie, the books, and both. I would recommend reading them, just so you know what Pullman is up to with "His Dark Materials."

Brian's Take

Briefing For Concerned Christians

The Movie At Pluggedin

The Books at Pluggedin


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baby Noah

Guess what?! I have a new nephew! I am so excited, and I cannot wait to meet him and Hannah in person. I'll say here and now that I love my nieces and nephews sooooo much...and we're all worried that Jason and Shannon might have problems bringing the kids home, because of Guatemalan government issues. I don't know the particulars of the political side of all of this, but please pray for them! Isn't Noah beautiful? I have now been an official aunt six times. I still remember the day that Stephen was born, and he's nearly six! (He'll be six in February)
So please please pray for Jason and Shannon. Don't I have gorgeous nieces and nephews? I am sooo excited!

Here's the link to Jason and Shannon's blog again....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret

I just finished Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret, which may have been better than the first one. In the second book of the Leven Thumps series,we most of the book in Foo, except for when we visit some new characters, and one that was mentioned a few times in the first book. From wens to siids to rants and dreams and gunt, this one was full of new stuff that was quirky and original. It's a flamboyant new fantasy, almost like a less serious version of Harry Potter, but without wizards and witches and wands and witch-craft. This one, like its predecessor, puts a ton of emphasis on 'fate' kind of like the 'force' in Star Wars, and 'fate' is a very important part of the book and apparently is what sort of does and decides everything. We all know what the word fate means, and it is used like that in this book. Leven has the power to manipulate fate, and Geth mentions fate half the time when he speaks.

I was really impressed with this one; probably more than the first one, even. Clover comes back strong and funny and sweet, just like the first time, and Geth is restored to human form, which I found that I liked and believed when it happened. The illustrations were interesting, and I think my favorite was actually the one of Geth as a human.

I think that Obert Skye is a good writer, and I am really looking forward to his other books and the rest of the Leven series. The writing is simple and easy to follow, and he uses new and surprising metaphors. He is very imaginative, and good at creating wretched creatures. (this is a hard thing to do; at least it is for me) and he is fairly good at creating evil, although I don't cringe when I think of the villains. Ezra, a new character, was almost humorous, Jamoon didn't seem threating, and neither did Sabine. All of them together are far more intimidating than just one by himself. (I don't know of any female villains as of yet.) If you enjoyed reading the first Leven book, and if you like gooey things (I think Obert Skye must have a fascination with mucas and things that are gooey) than this is a good book. Even though I liked it a whole lot, I'm gonna give it four stars on my five star rating system, just because I think it's a good book, but it could have been better. This was a great book, imaginative, flamboyant, funky, and it was definitely fantasy, perhaps reminiscent of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket.

In case you are wondering about the Whispered Secret in the title,'re just going to have to read the book to find out!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nephews are the Coolest Thing in the World, Nieces are the Coolest Thing in the World

I have, as of now, four nephews and two nieces. Stephen, the oldest, which is Brian and Holly's little boy, and Joel, whom is the second oldest, Jason and Shannon's little boy, and then Matthew, who is Brian and Holly's, and his little sister Susanna. Jason and Shannon are adopting a little girl named Hannah, and they are also adopting a little boy, who has not been named yet. They'll get both Hannah and my new nephew next year... we are all very excited!
Tonight Joel chased me all around the house; around and around and around we went, and by the end I felt like I was next to a furnace, and I was very sweaty. I've cooled off now. :)
It was a lot of fun, and Joel finally said, "Come here, sit down." I gladly excepted! I was very tired, and I still am, although the night is far from over. When we have company, I take advantage of that and splurge (stay up late, drink hot chocolate) although I don't know how long I'll last tonight.

Christmas is almost here! Just twenty-five days....and if I know anything those will fly by faster than I'll be able to count. Brian and Holly will be here for Christmas this year, along with all the kids, and Jason and Shannon and Joel and Koda. Very exciting! I'm thrilled that my whole family will be here. I'll get to spend lots of time with my nephews and niece, and all of my brothers and sisters-in-law. I can still remember when I met all of them...sort of. I barely remember meeting Holly, kind of remember meeting Shannon, and I remember meeting Alissa pretty well. I'm really looking forward to some of my Christmas presents too...Tolkien and Lewis! Dad won't tell me what else I'm getting...only that it isn't an ipod and "It's not on your list." arrghh! Kind of frustrating, but he won't give. I'll probably be posting soon; since I've already posted three Christmas posts then I won't kill myself to get one together tonight, even though I don't actually do an__oops, better not tell you my writing secrets! lol.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Miracle on 34th St.

This is the third in my series of movies to watch this Christmas on my blog. The next movie would be Miracle on 34th Street, the old one and the new one. I have only seen the new one a few times, and I can't remember hardly anything about it right now, but I have seen the old one a lot, and I know nearly everything that happens in it. Plus I watched some of it last night with my mom (Dad was watching football) on our new desktop. It's really a lot of fun to watch movies on that thing! It's easier than watching them on the TV, in some ways, and it has a really great picture.
The old Miracle on 34th Street stars Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood. O'Hara plays Mrs. Walker, who is the director of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and whom hires Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) as a last-minute substitute for the Santa Clause.
Natalie Wood plays the realistic daughter of Doris Walker, whom doesn't believe in Santa Clause and has been told that "fairy-tales are silly" John Payne is Fred Gailey whom is a lawyer and the Walkers' neighbor. Unlike Doris, he encourages child fantasy, and tries without the approval of Doris to Susan (Natalie Wood) to believe in Santa Clause, as does Kris.

It has its fair share of humor, touching moments, you know. The whole Christmas shebang, and it is one of my favorites. This is definitely a good movie to watch around Christmas.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's A Wonderful Life

This is also a great Christmas movie; it's one that we watch at least once every year around Christmas time, and sometimes before that! For anybody who likes Jimmy Stewart, Christmas, and good spiritual movies, than this is a good one. It starts out with a replay of George Bailey's Life; saves his little brother from drowning under the ice, stops some bad capsules from being delivered, and then goes to his brother's graduation dance. One of my favorite scenes is right after the graduation dance when George and Mary...somebody Mary go out for a walk (this picture is from that scene) and start talking about random things, like the moon.
"That's not a bad idea! I'll give you the moon Mary," says George.
"I'll take it!" Mary answers.....
And so on. The movie is basically about what George Bailey does in his life, until at last he gets so fed up with it that he wishes that he hadn't been born. Better be careful what you wish for George....the angel Clarence grants his wish, and George finds out what it would have been like had he never been born. I won't tell you all of it, so you can watch it, even though you have probably already seen it.
Christmas doesn't actually come in until the end, but somehow it still has that warm feeling of Christmas, even some mystery and the spooky black and white music when George finds himself in the Twilight Zone from never being born. It's a good movie with a good ending, with a beautiful prayer when George pleads to have his life back. This is definatlely a must-watch Christmas movie.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Last night we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas; one of the greatest Christmas movies ever. It is funny, sweet, and it has an awesome short, it's a good Christmas story with a quaint spin, which could be none other than Dr. Seuss. It's funny how odd little creatures like those in the Dr. Seuss books are now familiar to us and don't seem so strange, but you have to admit, that, once you think about it, what is stranger than a green hairy fellow in human form with extra long fingers that he can't maneuver very well with a green Mohawk?
Not much...:)
It's become a classic Christmas story, so much that we don't even question why. It is fun to think about how things become classics...this is the kind of story that you would think might be rejected. Harry Potter was rejected. Series of Unfortunate Events was rejected, about thirty-two times. (Actually, Jim Carrey starred in the role of the Unfortunate Movie as the villain..yet again. He did not turn good this time.)
Directed by Ron Howard, (Remember Opie Taylor?) the Grinch follows the story line pretty well, all though it adds a lot to make it a real-length movie, and it is a great adaption of the childhood tale that I learned to love when I was little. I don't even remember it very well now; only that I was very excited when I found out that there was a real-life action movie coming out. The dog Max is a favorite too; now that I think of it, he probably would have been a good animated character, but the dog came through fine. Most of you have probably already seen this movie, but why not watch it again for Christmas?
This is the first in my Christmas series for the blog, and I may post more on How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Enjoy the movie!
Anna Ron Who


I began Perelandra a few weeks ago, and I am sure I would have finished it before now had I not gone on a Fellowship kick.

Perelandra is the best C.S. Lewis book I have read so far; surpassing even the Narnia books and almost surpassed The Lord of the Rings. The story is unique that it begins with Lewis himself going to see Dr. Ransom, and then in the next chapters it goes on to say that Ransom comes back and tells the story. While reading Perelandra, I enjoyed reading about the landscape more than I have in any other book, and I felt many times like I knew exactly how it must feel to be there, just because it was so vivid.
The golden sky of Perelandra made the book peaceful to read, as well as the many days that Ransom spent merely loafing and exploring; eating the fruit, and making friends with creatures like dragons. Some of the highlight of the book for me was just learning about the creatures and plants that Lewis dreamed up for Perelandra. I think my favorite animal may have been the singing beast, or the dwarf mice. (I will say no must read it for yourself). The interactions with the humans and Perelandra were interesting and meaningful. There wasn't much dialogue in the book. Much of it was narrative of Ransom's actions and his personal thoughts in narrative form, which was a good way to get into his head in a non-personal way; as if he were thinking in a personal, yet non-personal manner. Almost as if he were talking to someone, but they could not glean feelings from his speech, or something like that. This is one of the best novels I have ever read, and that is saying a lot. Lewis was a master; a genius! The story itself is poetry in the from of sweet prose; and all Lewis fans should read it. It is a kind of sci-fi form of Paradise Lost by John Milton if I am not mistaken, and I think Lewis wrote another book concerning Paradise Lost. In short, this was much much better than Out of The Silent Planet, which I even got a little bored with in places. I was not enthralled. I read several chapters last night in a place called La Diosa's which is a kind of wine shop with live music (provided by Andy Hedges and Andy Wilkinson) and I read through the talk and the live music and clatter and bang of glasses and plates. I was enthralled with Perelandra; it was so full of depth and beauty that one could not help but like it. It had the sort of narrative that some children might even like...the animals and the fruit and other odd things of Perelandra helped that. I remember that I was inspired to read Lord of the Rings for more reasons than one, and one of those was because I knew there would be a bit of narrative on the horse characters in there somewhere, so I bought a copy of the Fellowship and read it. I still have that copy; in fact that is the only copy I have, and I have the other two as well. Lewis also attacks ideas that I have never spoken of to anyone, at least not that I remember, and at least not directly, that I assumed was either all in my own head or in everyone else's, but since they didn't talk about it there wasn't much point. It sort of helps one understand the nature of the world a little better. It was the sort of thing that you imagined since you were little, or knew about since you were little, like if you stare at a light for a minute, then when you look away you see colorful dots and shapes that glow as if white-hot. Lewis is a master (though I imagine everybody already knows that) and this is a must for any admirer of him or Tolkien.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


All of us watched Cinderella and Snow White when we were little. Remember how corny those were? Probably not. Enchanted is what the story of what would happen if Snow White and all those other girls showed up in our world....singing, mushy feelings, and incredibly corny performances and all, along with the little woodland animals. Yeah.
this was a hilarious movie. Hilarious.

We laughed and chuckled all through it, and the actors were brilliant.

How else can I describe it? It was funny, full of hilarious scenes, not-so-bad life lessons, and unlike the oh-so-popular Shrek movies, this one was clean and funny; a great take on modern fairy-tales.
And that's exactly what it was; a fairy-tale, unlike Tolkien and Lewis's glorious epics and sci-fi novels, fantasies and fancies, this is just like Disney's first movies, like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, especially.
It reminded me of good old fashion princess stories, although I remember I never wished to be one, very much. (If I was Daddy's princess, then I was good.)

It begins with animation, and it has clips of animation sequences things all through it. Whenever the wicked stepmother makes an appearance, it is always animated, expect towards the end, where she appears in the real world. After twenty minutes of animation, we finally get to the good part...New York City.

Divorce Lawyer decides to help out Gizelle, whom was sent there by the step mother, "a place where there are no happily ever afters," and over the course of...two days, about, he goes from thinking of her as an annoyance to a wonderful person. This was a great movie, especially for today's modern spin, and I enjoyed the taste of Snow White again. It's been a long time since I've watched Snow White, which is sad.
four stars!
Go watch it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tolkien and Lewis didn't start it

I have always imagined, although in the back of my head known, that Tolkien and Lewis wrote the first great fantasies, and they are two of my favorite authors that ever claimed to be a writer and penned their stories with typewriters and ink and paper. And more! But I have begun to realize that there are other great authors out there, whether living or dead, and Tolkien and Lewis would not want for us to think they did all of the best writing, I'm sure. I'm not saying that everybody does, but I've just realized; why have none of us ever thought of reading George McDonald, and many other authors with titles I cannot remember? Surely Lewis and Tolkien read much more than we did, and they probably knew about the best books. I am overwhelmed. I have hundreds of books to read, perhaps thousands, plus modern books, and then some! It is overwhelming because...I have to have my own copies. I used to go to the library, but now, for most of the best books, I must have my own copy, perhaps several copies, because I have begun to write and highlight my books. Or at least my paperbacks. I think it is a good idea, and I have thought that some day, I'll have dozens of journals that I used for reading and taking notes as I read. I'll say here and now that you can expect multiple book reviews of the same books over the years. I don't plan on abandoning this blog any time soon; and every time I reread a book like The Fellowship, I'll have new, more mature thoughts on it than I did the last time, until I have it memorized. It is not the sort of book you can read once. I am actually embarrassed that I have only read one of them twice, and I'll keep two other dirty little secrets about that to myself, because I don't want all of my friends to turn on me, although many of them probably already know, and there are probably only a few that even care. So there.
Another thought here is that Tolkien and Lewis did not entirely invent all of their worlds; they stole from Norse and Greek mythology, something else I need to read up on. Does anybody know of some good books on Norse and Greek Mythology? Norse is basically the same as Scandinavian or Viking Legends/myths. Eventually, I need to TYPE a list of books to read, and a list of books I have read. Take a page out of my brother's book. Brian is a great list maker, and he showed me a list he had been keeping for a VERY long time of books that he had read least just after I was born, I THINK...maybe BEFORE I was born, even. Brian? You have the list, you wrote it, how long have you been keeping it?
So anyway, just some more quick thoughts on Tolkien and Lewis and what THEY the beginning of the year and beyond I'll probably post more on this, as I am getting lots of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien for Christmas. Don't panic, I do have some surprises. A lot. If I don't get the Histories of Middle-Earth for Christmas, I'll eventually buy those, because these days, Tolkien is my fave author (and Lewis too. I can't say nay on either one, so they are both my favorite.) I really should go. I have no idea what is yet before me tonight...if I'm fortunate and me and Jason don't collapse, maybe Matrix Reloaded. Last night I saw the Matrix for the first time, and I really liked it a lot. New favorite, I imagine, even though I wouldn't watch too often at night...I think somebody put heebie-jeebies in it when they mixed up the recipe. And lots of weird grossness, too, in the first third....but also very cool. Very weird, but very cool .

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Fellowship of the Ring

Well, I recently finished reading the Fellowship for the second time. I was once again impressed, and I'm sure it won't be the last time. This is one of the greatest books ever written, perhaps the greatest fantasy epic that ever was. I began it probably a month ago, and read in it off and on, never really committing myself. A few weeks ago, I absolutely began reading it, and I couldn't stop. I couldn't shift my attention to any other book. I flew through it, and, since I have matured a bit in my reading since the last time I read this one, I enjoyed it even more than the last time, and I found that my attention did not wander hardly at all when I was reading it, as it often did when I read it for the first time.
I see each character differently, and I particularly enjoyed the beginning parts in the Shire, and just out. I also enjoyed all the poems much more than I did last time, and find that Tolkien has another genius besides prose, even though I suppose that wasn't his specialty. Those were some of the highlights of the book for me, and the chapter 'In the House of Tom Bombadil' was especially enjoyable, as it was full of colorful descriptions and a quiet but yet adventurous rainy-day side of Middle-Earth. It seemed like the sort of adventure I am having right now, thinking about all those tales, writing my modern thoughts on those tales, watching 'It's A Wonderful Life' with my mom and nephew Joel, and every now and then glancing at the tree and admiring all the glowing golden lights. The knowledge of snow outside helps. All those tales of Middle-Earth, like the history...I still haven't read the history of Middle-Earth, but I am planning on it soon, perhaps after Christmas. Back to the point. I am mad at myself for waiting until the last half to start highlighting. I have the movie paperbacks, but I don't have nice copies. My brother has nice copies, which will probably be on my Birthday/Christmas list next year. I would also LOVE to get the original copies that J.R.R. Tolkien designed himself. (So if anybody has those original copies, please tell me, if they're willing to part with them.) Rereading the Fellowship, I found several passages which I had completely forgotten, which were clues as to Tolkien's Middle-Earth which I had long forgotten, and I'm sure many other readers have forgotten it as well. For now I'll keep those to myself, because I imagine some of my readers would disagree, had they ever read it. But, in any case, they are very interesting, at least to a writer who looks.
The more I find out about Tolkien, and the more I read his works, the more eager I am to read more, more that I haven' t read yet. Their later adventures were wonderful, and I enjoyed reading about the Fellowship. In full, if you haven't read it, read it. If you have, read it again.
PS That image above is Tolkien's design for the Fellowship. Cool, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Turkey Day!!!!!

I just thought I would post now, as I'll be very busy for the rest of this week. Life update:
I got a haircut today, my eyes still haven't adjusted to contacts, I'm going to finish the Fellowship of the Ring very soon (two chapters away!) I have no money to speak of, and oh yeah...I'm getting a new laptop and desktop. I already have the laptop and I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!! I have been wanting a laptop for the longest time! I can write my book on vacation now, I can work in the LIVING ROOM on the COUCH!!!!!!!!! So exciting. The laptop isn't configured yet but I was promised by my brother that he would help me tomorrow night.
Writing is...ok, no real writer's block, but I'm in between kicks right now. Writing is something I do for enjoyment, and reading is something I do for enjoyment, and both are very important to me, and I am on a reading kick right now. Which is a light one, seeing as how I am too busy to worry about those things these days. I will happily have my family here for the rest of the week, starting tomorrow evening, and I just put up our tree. It doesn't have ornaments on it yet, just lights, and that is the worst part. So how now brown cow.
Today I picked up a Shel Silverstein book of poetry, and I think he is another Dr. Seuss that should be read to one's children. I was also delighted to find that it was the very same book that Mo read to Meggie in Inkheart, and a little orange bird came out of it. I found some of the same verses which Cornelia Funke fooled me into thinking were tricksy.
I hope that my reading will pick up some during the some in Future Grace (I don't read in it as often as I should, sadly. I wish I did, but I don't, and it's my own fault. :) ) Finish the Fellowship, start Two Towers, finish Perelandra (no I haven't finished that yet, cause I got started on the Fellowship!) read in Leven Thumps 2 (Yes I will write a book review on that one.) I still hope to do my 25 days of Christmas blogging spree, which will be movies, books, stories galore...I hope. We'll see. I'll try to blog regularly in December perhaps until the 20th, as that is when I think the family will begin arriving. Anyway, Good night and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nickel Creek Concert...WHOA!!!!!!

Yesterday, I drove to Austin with Andy and Alissa, and we stood up for about 6 hours and got the greatest spot at the Nickel Creek concert. IT WAS SO COOL!!!! I had the greatest time. When we got to Stubb's BBQ at 3:00, we had a late lunch and actually saw Chris Thile walking around with a hoodie on, a cell phone glued to his ear, and ordering BBQ take-out. It was so cool. I had a GREAT time, and I like Nickel Creek more than ever now, and I would kind of like to try some of Thile and Watson's solo CD's.
Watching them last night, I understand all three better, and I get their personalities better too. Thile looks like he's the most abstract, fun sort of guy. He loved the attention of the crowd, and he did whatever he could to get it, it seemed. He was the showiest of all three. Sara Watson didn't joke as much, and she wasn't as showy. She's a fantastic violin player. I think she must have enjoyed the crowd, even though she didn't show it as much. Sean looked like he would rather be somewhere else the whole time, but he is a fantastic guitar player. If you haven't checked them out yet, you should. Buy any one of their CD's, because each one is different and fantastic.
The lighting, sound, and sight was fantastic from where I was standing. We were in the very front, and we had something to lean on while we watched.
The came back out twice after they left, but I think they only intended to come out once. They also pulled a girl from the crowd that they knew to play a few songs with them. It was cool; they played some bluegrass and "Where the Soul of Man Never Dies," and the first time they came back out they played some more of their own songs and a Brittney Spears song, which I think was called 'Tox on Toxic' which was funny.
I wanna say they played that one first and as soon as they came back out the first time.
In any case, I had a blast, and I would go see them again. It was so much fun! The guy that opened for them was..good. He was weird, and I can't spell his last name, so you might just check out their website. Here's a link: Nickel Creek
Enjoy the site, and check out a CD!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Well, December needs to get here faster....

The Christmas spirit seems to have already entered the house...or at least, it did for a bit earlier. Mom and I decided to wrap some presents that we already had...and actually, now that I think of it, we have done better this year than any other year before. Nearly all of our shopping is done now, except for mine (I mean ME shopping for OTHER PEOPLE) and we still have to get the kiddos some stuff. :)
That's really good...sometimes we aren't done till the day we actually open the presents!
I also thought I would let everybody know that since December is basically Christmas month, you can expect Christmas lyrics, Christmas Movies, Christmas books, Christmas Poetry, Christmas Scripture, and my own Christmas writing posted in December, perhaps every day. No promises; if I promise, I won't do it!
so anyway, my plan is to have about...let's say ten or twelve movies, and in between I'll put book reviews, poetry, quotes, lyrics, and maybe even snippets of Christmas writing projects...(a.k.a., Christmas at Dwalyn Kitt's house!)
And, I find that I can do short Christmas stories, sometimes, even though they aren't very good, but I might tell you about some of them. So, it's nearly Thanksgiving, and next weekend, no this weekend, I'm going to a Nickel Creek concert with Andy and Alissa. FUN!!!!! It's in Austin, so it'll be a lot of too, if you're older brother has an ipod and you have a ton of books to read...:D
So anyway, that's just a quick 'blog' update, and the blog plan for December. That'll be a lot of writing for me, because that'll be all my other writing projects, super Christmas blogging, and my book. That's why I'm going to be super busy during this time of year...ok let me lay it out.
Give the House a deep clean for company
Write in my book
Blog everyday (:D no promises!)
Other Writing projects
Read all the books I'm working on BEFORE CHRISTMAS DAY...ok maybe not...
probably a bunch of other stuff will pile themselves on, so, if I don't do the blog thing, which I plan on it, then don't stop reading! I might kind of go along with ABC Family's 25 days of Christmas movie thing starting on December 1st.
I gotta go, and I don't know when I'll blog again. I'll try to a few more times this week, but I'm going out of town on Wednesday, and I won't be able to blog...probably until next Sunday night or Monday, as Friday night or Saturday morning I'll be in Lubbock and then in Austin. Busy week! Tomorrow we might be going to Lubbock to shop and then to a skating party in Plainview, but we haven't decided.

Writing and Me

For the time-being, I am perfectly sane and I am able to take care of my writing now. All I really had to do was sit down and read over some of what I had written, and then I was re-writing some scenes, and that helps. I'm also kind of in touch with Dwalyn, my main character, which is good, because that means I know her enough to start sketching out more scenes. I've tried at keeping a notebook of her, but I haven't done very well yet. Writing exactly what she would is very hard, nearly impossible at the moment, but I suppose I"ll learn. I don't know how many writers keep whole notebooks all for one character; I have been told that Lewis and Tolkien didn't. I think Tolkien wrote one page! But of course, Lewis and Tolkien were much better than me. Anyway...I'll have more goodies for my kids to publish when I'm dead than Tolkien and Lewis. :)
So Writing is OK, at least for now, and writer's block is, for the time-being gone, although I am still in a sticky spot.


Jumanji is the prequel to Zathura, a movie a saw about two weeks ago. Last night, I caught Jumanji while at my grandmother's house, and I enjoyed it. The action scenes weren't as intense as Zathura, although there was actual chemistry in this one. The story lines are basically the same, even though the characters are different, the actors are different, and Jumanji affects the whole town, not just the people in the house, like in Zathura. It was a good adventure story. I think if you're interested in Zathura and Chris Van Allsburg, the writer of both books and the Polar Express, you should check out Jumanji. Kirsten Dunst fans will be interested; Dunst plays Judy, one of the kids in the movie. On the whole, Jumanji is lighter toned than Zathura, and it is jungle-themed. I haven't read any of Chris Van Allsburg's books, although I'm beginning to wonder if I ought to check them out. Oh yeah, and Robin Williams plays Allen Parrish. The end was kind of...weird, but I won't give it away. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a good movie. 3 1/2 stars.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Out of the Silent Planet

Today I finished Out of the Silent Planet. WOW. This was a GREAT book. The narrative itself was full of poetry and beautiful descriptions. Lewis was especially clever in describing the Malacandrian landscape, and upon reading the postscript at the end I realized how much thought had gone into the writing of this book. It also revealed to me a tiny seed of wisdom that was almost obvious in our world, but I had never guessed, even though the very thought actually is something incredibly close to me. For now, I will keep that to myself, but I'm sure that if my book EVER GETS PUBLISHED some of those ideas will be seen in it, because I really understand that better than I ever have, and I have good reasons for making it such a huge part of my story.
I think my favorite part was actually the postscript just because I understood the book so much better (and my own, life itself even) after reading it.
Lewis fans MUST READ THIS. Five stars.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Writing takes a REALLY REALLY LONG TIME....

How many times have I said on this blog that writing is NOT easy? How many times do I find that out again...?
No idea.
I started really writing a few days ago, and at first, everything went well. Writing was pleasure, not chore, I thought I was doing well. I was wrong. I find that I keep starting before I am ready. The plot, in my opinion isn't stable. WHY?
How long is this going to take....? It took Tolkien Ten years to write the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
I wonder how long it took him to write the first one? I have been working on this book for over a year now. You know how it started, if you read this blog regularly. I think I've said several times how much it has changed, but still, after a year and...(counting on fingers)....six months I am still not ready to begin. It's getting a little bit ridiculous. I keep starting new techniques to help me. My latest is keeping a notebook for each character (though I'm not quite there yet....) and that is going to be hard, believe it or not. Dwalyn is getting more difficult all the time. I don't know her. She's a stranger to me. Almost a perfect stranger. At one point, I was right in touch with her, just enough to write her. At another, I lost it. At the next, I had it AGAIN, and AGAIN I lost it. Dwalyn is playing hard-to-get. In this case, I feel like I have almost no control over how Dwalyn thinks or acts, and she acts in the story as the real Dwalyn wouldn't. I have a first draft of the book already, but what do I do next? I'm starting to grab at a new plan. I'm thinking that I"m going to 'Snowflake' the book and take a ton of notes.
Maybe. When I decide for sure, I'll update the blog. know what we're going to be talking about tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zathura: A Space Adventure

This afternoon I watched Zathura: A Space Adventure. I don't really know a ton about it. All I know is that the guy who wrote the book The Polar Express wrote the book for Zathura.
Here's my take:
It was a little rough getting off. A few bad words, and the kids' fighting did get a little old, but once they started playing the game, it was a pretty good movie. I recommend it. It is suspenseful in places, cute, adventurous, overall a kid's dream movie (except the bad words I mentioned.) The special effects for space were pretty breathtaking, but I thought they could have done better on the actual sky. Saturn and the astroid field (or whatever it was) were actually pretty and mind-blowing. It is hard for me to comprehend how big space is, knowing how big our own little solar system is.
It was rated PG, in case you were wondering.
I enjoyed it. I was on the edge of my seat for parts of it, and it had a great twist in the end. Big sis got a little better towards the end, but she was basically a typical teenager. Yuck.
4 stars on my 5 star rating system. Watch it if you like good sci-fi. A good choice for young sci-fi fans.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Polls:

Poll 1: Pick your Favorite Name:
I created this poll for writing purposes. I'll tell you my decision and the reason I put it there when it closes.
Poll 2: Tolkien's Best Character:
Also for writing purposes, as well as curiosity. I can't decide...but I confess I'm tempted to say Gollum/Smeagol, but Gandalf and Pippin....Don't ask me, just vote!

New Niece!!!

My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew got to meet their new adopted baby for the first time. Her name is Hannah Faith. SHE IS SO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course, you can see that by looking at her. :) God has really blessed them in their journey for their new baby.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

I finished reading Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye yesterday. I was impressed and happy with it. It was very creative, full of new and interesting metaphors, and the characters were well-written. I'll give it four stars, four because it was good, minus the five for crooked world-views.
Every chapter put a great deal of emphasis on 'fate' the force that controled every thing. It basically has Star Wars type views: "May the force be with you...."
My favorite character was Clover Earnest, a little cat/elf like creature called a sycophant. He's the thing on the back of Leven Thumps. I like the drawings of Leven. They look like he would. The drawings in it were favorite was one of Clover. :D
Anyway, the plot centers around Leven, Winter, Clover, Geth (a tree turned toothpick) and Sabine, the villain.
Sabine was a good villain. I thought he could have been better, actually...I was not scared of him. Sauron is pure evil, and he is scary. These days I don't know if I like J.K. Rowling or not, but I have to admit that Voldemort is one of the best villains every created, and absolutely scary.
Tash was also a scary villain, as was the White Witch, but I wasn't really scared of them. Tash was just.....Tash. Tash was ugly.
Sabine was a good villain, but I wasn't really, incredibly scared of him. The scarier the villains, the better. Or the more threatening, or whatever.
The story goal is to find Geth, and then to get to the Gateway and destroy the entrance into Foo. Foo is the world of dreams, and if the Gateway is not destroyed, Sabine will let out the inhabitants of Foo and the dreams of the human race will be destroyed, along with hope. Read the keeps you interested.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Last week, I watched E.T. for the second time in my life, all the way through. The first time, I was probably eight, nine, maybe even ten, and I didn't like it. I watched it again, and I loved it! It was classic, the plot was put together well, and the last action scene had my heart pumping. I knew it would be OK, but if you still want to watch and find out, then it's a good movie (book). I also thought it was a bit touching. The music reminded me a little of the wonder in Star Wars. Very cool.
I was very impressed; the little boy, Elliott, was fantastic character, well-written and well-played by Henry Thomas. Isn't it awful that the movie has been around since before I was born and I have only just now seen and liked it? E.T. is probably in the top hundred best movies ever made. Probably one of the best remember images is E.T. and Elliott flying on the bicycle in front of the moon.
(See above)
Five stars!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Talking Animals: Why or Why not?

This poll is open to all. You can choose more than one answer. Sorry for the grammar mistake on question 2. I really want to read your opinions on this, so read my previous entry on Talking Animals and leave me some comments!

October 30

1. Animals should definately talk in fantasies. Trees too. : 3 votes, 75%
2. Animals should communicate in languages that are not our own. Trees too. 1 vote 25%
3. One thing or another: not too many of either one. 1 vote, 25%
4. Leave the animals out of it! I wanna read the battles. Trees are probably OK. 0%
5. I can't stand talking animals in fantasies! Trees either. 1 vote, 25%
6. Only fantastic beasts and trees should talk: 0%

No comments on this one!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sl-o-o-w Days...but VERY busy!

The last few weeks have been busy and have flown by in a blur. Last week we went to Lubbock twice; I got contacts (I can now put them in and take them out fairly quickly) and last weekend we had a belated B-day party for Mom. The best part was dinner! My two older brothers were there, with my two sisters-in-law and my nephew, Joel. My oldest brother and his family didn't drive all the way from Indiana to Texas for the party. :)
The food was great. Oven-fried Chicken, mashed potatoes and rolls. There were even green beans! And cake. YUM!!!
My dad unfortunately got sick the next day (no, not from the dinner) and my brother, his wife, and my nephew had to leave. We stayed home the next day from church...Dad still didn't feel very it's Tuesday. Yesterday I went over to my friend's grandmother's house and ran and shouted all afternoon. In the sun. I am still very tired and sore. My mouth is dry, nose runny...but it was a blast. We play mostly outside. Actually, I didn't go in at all over the course of just about seven hours, except when we first got there. I didn't come in again until supper time. My feet, ankles, legs and thighs remember it. They are protesting against any movement....but as I have to walk I have to ignore them. :)
Today we are going to Lubbock again. I don't know what we are doing the rest of this week, but I can't wait for Saturday so I can sleep in!
Writing is very slow. I started the actualy writing and went on a reading strike. My writing inspiration went on a trip and forgot to tell me where it was going. So it isn't going very well these days. I hope to get my inspiration back soon, though...and then I can really hit it HARD.
Which I really need to get it back this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Game Plan: Move Review

I can't say much bad about this movie. I was really impressed. The plot was predictable, I admit' but the acting was good, the characters good, but typical...all in all a great family movie. It reminds me of The Pacifier, which becomes something like 3 stars compared to this 5 star movie. It was really sweet and also very funny. We laughed and chortled all through it. The chemistry between Joe and the ballet teacher is nice. Peyton was adorable; and her character teaches some good lessons too. One of her common quotes was:
"Stupid is a mean word."
She was conscience about her diet, and other peoples': she was kind, sweet, everything the average little girl is, without the attitude seen in so many little (and big) kids and teens in movies and even real life. Focus on the Family covers the few negative points on this movie, which I really thought weren't near as bad as they said it was. I think they made the movie sound worse than it really is. Take your kid or wife or hubby and go see. Take your parents! Go by yourself! My point is, just watch it. I think it was worth the movie ticket.

Quick Update on my Life:

So my life is going well. I am reading a big stack of about fifteen. (I really am serious. Some of them I am just picking and choosing what I read, like Lewis and Tolkien's essays: others I'm reading straight through.) School is going as well as school can go, I suppose. No comment really...what's to report on school? :)
Today we went to the eye doctor and I got contacts! Big whoop! Until I had to take them out. I took me about an hour to get both of them...the left eyes is the hardest. So I join the other myopic Hedges kids in the glorious tradition of contacts. I had to put my nails on my eyeball and grab the slippery contact. Pretty bad, but it was such the relief to get it off! Tomorrow night we are having a belated b-day party for Mom at Andy and Alissa's pad. Chocolate cake and Fried Chicken is on the nephew, Joel and my brother and sister-in-law Jason and Shannon are coming. Yum, fun and scrumpscilescant food! I don't suppose anything else too exciting is happening. My dog got a bath and a hair cut the other day. She was named Autumn for good reason. She looks reddest and best this time of year. Dream dog.
Every night we watch The O'Reilly factor...although he is definitely not my first choice. Kiefer Sutherland was the Pinhead last night....poor Kiefer....even though he deserves it for a DWI.
So nothing else new. Going to my little baby cuz's house in about a week and staying for a few days. That'll be fun! Historygeek organized a New Inklings group on Yahoo! I'll post the site here soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Iliad and Me: The Why, The How, The Book

I recently started reading the Iliad, which I found to my pleasant surprise, was a book that I enjoyed greatly. The Iliad and the Odyssey have been on my list of books to read for a while, and I have only just now reached The Iliad. I have read the first six books (can't wait to reach the tenth book) and I am enjoying it. I remember when I first started it I was surprised to reach the end of the first book, which means that I was enjoying it so much I didn't notice how fast I was going. I highlight passages, descriptions, phrases, names and dialogue as I go. A lot of them have to do with horses, and I am surprised at how much emphasis it puts on horses in it. Horses or something of and related to horses is mentioned on nearly every page. It makes me realize what a huge part horses were of the culture and the need to survive back then, kind of like a car is now, except horses were probably a bit more intimate. I think that the men must have grown some attached to their horses, as we grow attached to dogs. Dogs and cats are a huge part of our culture, and we keep them as pets. It's almost a family necessity, although many families go without it; but it is something that (and I'm just guessing here) that about 85% of Americans have in their household. As such, most people (at least nearly all the fighters and noblemen) had horses. Tolkien also put a lot of emphasis (for that kind of a book) on his horses. He gave them names, created special races, and extraordinary mounts for the characters. Apparently, horses were also a big part of life in Middle-Earth. Rohan, home of the horse-lords especially. Eomer and Eowyn both have names with Rohan (horse) heritage. When I began to realize this, I thought to myself: "If Tolkien and Homer did it, why can't I unveil it?"
Meaning: If Tolkien and Homer wrote about times of great war, where the horses were important, where they had minor (but important) parts in the story....what about how they came to meet? What about why those horses and that man (and that woman) have a special relationship that is generally of and pertaining to fantasy? Why not write how and why it happened? I don't feel guilty about making horses a huge part of the book. I'm still struggling with the idea of Ebony and the other horses talking, at all or ever. I think I might do a commentary from the horses' side: he can't talk out loud, but he can make things known. If you have any opinions on talking animals and why or why not, leave me a comment. I'll have a poll on this soon.
The Iliad, besides the constant reference to horses, also describes armour and chariots in great detail. I wonder if this was part of their honour or pride? Horse-hair plumage was often found on their helmets (in the Lord of the Rings movies, Eomer's helmet and probably several others were depicted with horse hair plumage coming out the top.) The Iliad, so far, also mentioned a 'god or goddess' on nearly every page as well. Tolkien does have better world-views, although the Iliad is a great book. So far. :) The 'gods' that so many Trojans and Archaens worship did not even create the peoples in the book; I think it was their gods or their parents that did, and thus they might have been created in that way themselves. I am not sure. This is my first time reading the Iliad, and I don't know a whole lot about Greek Mythology. Now I know why Historygeek knows so much about Greek mythology! The Iliad is ripe with it. If I ever need to know something about Greek Mythology, I just ask Historygeek. The Iliad isn't exactly a fantasy, I don't think, but more of an epic. Lord of the Rings is also an epic, but it has an obvious fantastic epicus about it. Harry Potter, on the other hand, is not an epic. I'm not even sure I can call the Narnia tales epics; those are Chronicles. :)
Many of the characters in the Iliad have immoral tastes as well. I have been told that it is very violent and gory; I haven't gotten to any good battles yet. The footnotes, although not part of the original translation, as far as I know, have been helpful in helping understand the story, and very interesting. The story of Pegasus and his rider Bellerophon was briefly mentioned in book six, which I am vaguely familiar with. I don't feel as guilty about the horses anymore, since the word is mentioned on nearly every page in the Iliad. Even Tolkien didn't mention the horses as often, if I recall properly. I am really enjoying the Iliad. I try to read a book a day, so I can get through it easier. I don't like leaving off in the middle of a chapter or a book. I think I heard that the Iliad took up about eight scrolls to write. I am not sure that Homer even wrote it. I read that he only told the tales, and they became so well known that people could write them down, in Greek. It is now (obviously) translated into English, but Historygeek says he might eventually end up reading it in Greek, to read it in its most original state. Sounds like hard work, but it is fun work. If you do something that you like, you'll never work a day in your life. I quote...somebody. Can't remember their name. The Iliad and the Odyssey have influenced dozens (hundreds?!) of writers through the ages. Harry Potter may or may not be a product of Iliad influence. Tolkien was, I think, and probably Lewis. I think Paolini probably was as well. If he read Beowulf, he had to have read The Iliad. I give the Iliad five stars (four if you go by amazon rating). I'll post more thoughts on it soon.
Anna Elizabeth Hedges

Friday, October 5, 2007

Inheritance 3

I posted this pic because my 'big' cuz Mikaela wanted to see it. I am pretty sure that this is the cover for the third inheritance book...not positive, but 99.9% sure is pretty good. This book follows Eragon and Eldest. I just read that the 3rd book might possibly be called Empire.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Talking Animals: How much is too much?

The pictures here show two animals in to well-known and beloved fantasies: (although one of them wasn't true to the book) the talking fox in the Chronicles of Narnia (the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) and the snake in Harry Potter (The Sorcerer's Stone).
When writing fantasy, many authors have made their animals talk. Lewis had a talking animal in almost every book (counting or NOT counting Aslan), though Rowling veers from it. The snake could only speak to Parselmouths, not just anybody. My brother once said that Lewis went a bit overboard with the talking animals; Rowling has the right mix. Let's think. We have all the snakes (that can talk only to Parselmouths) Aragog, the spider, and though their are many other animals none that I can remember actually talk out loud (save the sphynx, who doesn't exactly count.) Lewis has Fledge, Bree, Hwyn, Aslan, Reepicheep (I had almost forgotten about Reepicheep, who is very hilarious. I remember a friend doing an impersonation of a squeaky little mouse whom did Reepicheep great justice.) Puzzle, Shift, and Jewel. Lewis has a great many more than Rowling. I will say that I really don't think that Lewis quite captures the true horse personality. Bree is proud, sarcastic, and a bit of a pretty boy. He thinks he knows everything, and he considers himself to be above all (or most) other beings. Horses are NOT like that, not in my book. (No pun intended.) In my book (my actual book, not the one that we refer to when we speak of our philosophy) I have three cats that are capable of human speech, a few horses (though the horses don't speak very often; and even then they speak mostly in equus language, not the human tongue.) I can't think of any other animals that speak at the moment, though every one of them I made intelligent. Tolkien, if I recall correctly, did not actual write any animal characters that could speak (though one was mentioned in history that could understand the language of men, perhaps speak it). I know that all the animals and plants could understand the language of the elves, and let's do remember the Ents, trees who could walk and talk. Trees themselves spoke to each other in the tree language. I haven't read all of Tolkien's works (don't forget Smaug, who could also speak), so there could have been other talking animals. Tolkien wrote the following:

"The beast fable has, of course, a connexion with fairy-stories. Beasts and birds and other creatures often talk like men in real fairy-stories. In some part (often small) this marvel derives from one of the primal 'desires' that lie near the heart of Faerie: the desire of men to hold communion with other living things. But speech of beasts in a beast fable, as developed into a separate branch, has little reference to that desire, and often wholly forgets it. The magical understanding by men of the proper languages of birds and beasts and trees, that is much nearer to the true purpose of Faerie."
J.R.R. Tolkien* (italics mine for emphasis)

So you see, talking animals that communicate with men is nearest to the true purpose of fantasy. This is what I think of to justify my talking beasts.I am sure I am not done yet. I am at cross-roads with these cute little horse-like creatures that I made up several months ago, and I hadn't intended to use them in this version of the story, but I am really quite attached to them. They are little horse/deer like creatures, some that I called Terris. They talk out loud, and they have very long names, although they call each other (and everybody else) by nickname. They are sort of like the irrepressible Reepicheep or Peregrin Took. Even Meriodoc Brandybuck; I still don't know what to do with them. I expect that if my book were ever made into a movie (which it never will...I don't think....:)) that most of the talking animals would be eliminated. Aluthra would not have an important part, or a part at all; I think Nebula Shinnings would probably end up moving up and taking her place.
I think it also depends on how you write the animal character. Bree really doesn't meet my expectations and standards for talking horses. The snakes in Harry Potter were definitely written well. The spider too; I feel like I am doing an alright job on my cats and horses. Here's my take:
If an author can truly capture an animal's mind, the way they think the animal would think, the way they would act, the way they truly would if they could talk, then they have all the right to fill their pages with talking animals. If they all have the same personality, all of them are proud and arrogant, then they really ought to stay out of it. That is one of the goals I have set for myself: to make my horse characters witching and perfect, the exact way that horses would talk, act, and think. Not the rugged western horse (that idea has been worn out) or just 'plain old horse, barn and manure' either. It has to be something noble, kingly, fantastic, the way Tolkien might have written his horses, the way that I would want them written. Somebody once said that if there is a book you want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. I must write it, because nobody has captured the true horse personality yet, although Anna Sewell did a good job. Just not quite on the spot...anyway, I'll address this subject later. Thanks for reading!
Anna Elizabeth Hedges
* The Tolkien Reader, Tree and Leaf, On Fairy-Stories, by J.R.R. Tolkien