Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2014 Books Read Recap, Round 1

  I promised a recap of my favorite books that I read last year. There's going to be several posts, as I was lucky enough to have a lot! These first five I enjoyed a lot. 

A Case For Christ by Lee Strobel
Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens(finally read that one!)
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (fantastic)
The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis  (absolutely in love with C. S. Lewis's work!  This was brilliant).

 A Case For Christ
   I had read A Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel a few years before when I found A Case For Christ at a thrift store, and was eager to see what research the author had put into forming an argument for the legitimacy of the Christian faith in Jesus's existence and message. I was fascinated by the different aspects of his research, for example learning about the importance people like the Hebrews put on the conciseness of things that were passed down, that nothing be changed. If they allowed such things, then the purity of that heritage couldn't be depended on. Eventually it would just be a story, not their history. This book I intend to read again!

 Paris Letters
  I have been following Janice MacLeod's blog for a few years now, and I LOVE her photos and updates for how she's succeeding with her Etsy business, her books, and the new people she's been connecting with. It's always fun. Especially learning about her life in Paris! She wrote Paris Letters as a way to share her path to getting to where she is now, to how she had to make sacrifices in the beginning to make a way to have her long 2-year (or was it 1 year?) vacation in Paris, to find new inspiration and find something different in life. This read was a happy, fun roller coaster ride. It was just so fun. This is the type of book to curl up with with a nice latte and just have a good time. It certainly inspires you to find a way to have your own long inspiration-filled vacation.

Great Expectations
  I actually watched the 2011 BBC miniseries of this first, which I just completely fell in love with. It just captured my imagination, and spurred me to finally read the book. The book, while having spots that drag out a bit, was a lovely treat. I laughed a bit at Dickens' tendency to carry on a sentence, as if to put himself through an exercise of how long he could keep it going. But the story plot, the characters--they really stood out. Especially the psychology behind. I just enjoyed it so much!! Looking forward to reading more of Dickens' work. I've already read Oliver Twist, which was fun, but I especially looking forward to A Tale of Two Cities and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. (Another miniseries that I love!!)

Ender's Game
  Whoa. This went to the top favs pretty quick--Card's writing is superb, and the way he portrayed live in the training and the war itself--it was a real action-filled study. Had a lot of truth in it. I watched the movie first (often a prerequisite to a lot of my fav books--I read so randomly that books that end up being a favorite often have a movie made after them. But there are tons of treasures that haven't been adapted that I just hold on pedestals), and almost immediately went and checked out the book. Orson Scott Card's writing is sharp and insightful. It's fueled by imagination but lives on a bedrock of logic. He's on my favorite author list. I was lucky enough to find some of his other works at the thrift store! Obviously I piled them all in my cart.

The Great Divorce
  Whoohoo--I LOVED the symbolism and setting that had me guessing and thinking about the circumstances, characters, and meanings behind this merry-go-round of dream-like realities. It was so thought-provoking. I love stories that really make you see things in different ways, keep you guessing, and then present it in a way that makes you sit back and just think about it. You know truth when you touch it. C. S. Lewis is the author I love reading most when I want to read insightful work on Christian ideas/messages. I never finish dissatisfied. He always writes with experiences, conviction, and intellect. Often enough, when I read something from others, it sounds like the same thing you'd hear in Sunday School. I want something that has been lived.

  Reading is always a journey--that's the great thing about it. Just in reading new things you get new ideas, new ways to see things, and best of all--new awesome authors to follow with the anticipation of a pup awaiting a meaty bone. (Okay, perhaps I could have used a better alliteration, but I've been dealing with my pup, so this image came quickly). ;)

  I'll be sharing more books from 2014 soon!

  E. C. S.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Humanity In the Hands of an Innocent~ Edward Scissorhands

  There was a movie that I had seen as a kid. I was absolutely in love with it. Growing up, I could only remember fragments of it, fragments that stuck in my head, blurry but romantic images of what I perceived the story to be.

  Just recently my library started allowing movie rentals up to 4-6 weeks, (yes, wow) and so I've started regularly checking out movies, because I knew I'd be able to get them back on time. I was thrilled to come across Edward Scissorhands--I hadn't seen it in over ten years, and once I got home I popped it in.

  SO different than what my childhood perception of it was. One element was the same--the kindness of Peg, and Edward's need to please, to love, and to be accepted. I love his character.

  But one thing disturbed me--my nostalgic memory portrayed the story as something pure, and bittersweet--and to a great extent it is a strong underlying current. What I didn't remember was all the neighborhood dirtiness, portrayed by the women. They rather reminded me of the people of Sodom, only clad in 60's notstalgic sweetness and pastel colors. It got to me to almost hate it in a way--I disliked Joyce especially, the next-door whore with less class than a dung beetle.

  But when I thought on it a bit, I realized that everything about the movie actually serves a very crucial point. It is essential, despite the distastefulness. Every good person, every...less likeable person...was part of a purpose.

 Peg, the motherly heart that can't stand to alienate anyone, even when to some it would be obvious; her husband, the typical voice of paternal wisdom yet rather blank on those around him, the son who is just minds his own fun, and Kim, the child of the world caught up in her own time.

 Then Edward, the creature born of a mysterious Inventor's imagination. Little by  little he was created, given the heart of an innocent child (figuratively speaking), and at the very last, his master intended to give him hands--hands with with to touch, to feel, to work with. Yet he died there right at his feet, at the crucial moment that would have given him something that he desperately wanted. Hands with which to reach out in gentleness. The Inventor, to me, serves as a very strong, illusive symbolism of that Someone mankind often feels like is not there when we need him.

  Then there is the Neighborhood. The neighborhood that functions like a cesspit of gossip, however innocent or trivial, it gets passed around, smeared on here and there. All the while smiling. All in good fun. And any new things, well--everyone wants a piece of it. Like something to be gobbled up for their own amusement--especially for Joyce, the ravaging machine incarnate.

  From his forsaken loneliness Edward Scissorhands is taken into the world, embraced by Peg and her motherly love, and farcically taken in by the neighborhood with its sweet manners and simpering exterior. In his tenderness and desperate need for acceptance, he trims their hedges, he skewers their kabobs, he lends his creativity to their hairstyles and everything he can touch. Even though he bumbles through their customs, their rules, and struggles not to tear through the clothes they give him, hiding his own beneath.

  Yet, easily, but the slightest thing, it can come tumbling down because the jealousies risen from something that cannot be corrupted, the Innocent is used, framed, cast out. Chased away like a monstrous beast, it's only real defender is the child of the world (Kim) who has recognized purity because it has stood alongside what she has, and she has realized the difference. Recognizing the preciousness, that purity, her own goodness reawakens to the beauty of it and causes her to confront what she once accepted. She craves what Edward represents.She's even beginning to love him.

  It seems that the story is much of a commentary on the fact that humanity at its purest is only victimized by the world, ravaged, and cast out when it can't have its way with it. Even by the painted-pretty societies that pretend to be civilized and open-minded, backed by values that welcome in the lonesome wanderer. When in reality, they are still the savage wilderness, with a false face, waiting for the kill, with the rest of the animals.

  And, perhaps, it is also a question to a mysterious maker to why He didn't give his creation the tools with which to fully make a difference in the world. Why, in the end, he was disarmed. He had so much to offer; but what perhaps made him special, also alienated him from the race he wanted to be part of. I think it is a truth, that perhaps our own humanity is alien to many of us. And to keep it safe, many hide it away, where although safe, its beauty and truth is concealed from where it will do good.

  In the end, it is Kim who makes a sacrifice, along with Edward, who flees to solitary safety. Kim lies about Edward's death, and walks away so that he might survive, even within the cold stone walls of his old home, alone with his own creations. Far away from the eyes of the Neighborhood and the people in it. The only reason that the Kim knows Edward has survived, is because something as simple as snow still falls from the direction of the gated castle. She, and the neighborhood, are blessed with but a dusting of what they could have, as Edward Scissorhands tirelessly creates piece after piece of art, all in memory of the world he wanted, and the girl he loved. But away from everyone else, who were too blind to recognize what they could have had.

  ~ E. C. S.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Books Read In 2014

  I made a goal last year to read 40 books--I actually exceeded that goal with a total of 53. I'm making a goal of reading 50 books this year, since I'm obviously capable of reaching it. So far I've only done 4 (been spending so much time on my business) but I'm sure I'll find a way of reaching that goal! Heaven knows I can't keep away from books for long. I'm currently working on the last books of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones. It is incredibly fun and insightful--you can only imagine how fun and interesting it is for me to see what it must have been like to make the movies! Every time I get a book on the making of a film, I get more determined and encouraged to get into the film industry myself.

  This is the list of the books I read in 2014! In later posts I'll be talking about the ones I liked most. There were too many to talk about them all in one! I'd love to hear about what you read in 2014, and your goals for this year!

  Any specific books you're trying to get off your to-read list? On mine is the Grimm Fairytales. And Barnes and Noble has this exquisite edition--even if I do have the collection on Kindle, I'm determined to have THAT GORGEOUS BOOK!

Enjoy! Let me know if you've read any of these yourself!

A Case For Christ by Lee Strobel 

Blessings For Women by J. Countryman company

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw

Lost Women of the Bible by Carolyn Custis James

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Brian Froud's FaerieLands: The Wild Wood by Lee Child

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale

Speaker of the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Atherton: Rivers of Fire by Patrick Carmen

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

Marilyn's Last Words: Her Secret Tapes and Mysterious Death by Matthew Smith

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli

A Series of Unfortunate Events 1-9 by Lemony Snicket

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

The Fairty Tales of Charles Perault

Sisters of Sinai by Janet Soskice

The Problem With Pain by C. S. Lewis

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Essential Guide by BBC

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Forgotten Realms: Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers

The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Doctor Who/Star Trek Assimilation by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, and Tony Lee

The Magic Bullet by Larry Millett

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J. K. Rowling

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Maurillier

Agatha Christie The Grand Tour: 
Around the World With the Queen of Mystery
by Agatha Christie

In Defense of Sanity
The Essays of G.K. Chesterson
by G. K. Chesterson and Dale Ahlhquist

 Hope you enjoyed the list! I'll have a lot to say about Chesterson, Juliet Marillier, J. K. Rowling, as well as a few other authors I'm now a fan of!

  ~E. C. S.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thorin Oakenshield on the Pier of His Fathers

  Some people's soft spot is for romance, the idea of flaming love, or forbidden love--mine has always been true friendship. Any real love, it seems to me, starts with the sincere beginnings of friendship. My favorite theme in The Hobbit always has been, and will be, the friendship between Thorin and Bilbo. I love it. I feel that it isn't sufficiently touched on in the book.

  One thing I loved in the movies was that Thorin was explored more, as a character. In the book, I was very much irritated that someone who had the drive to take back his homeland and lead a gang of rowdy dwarves was portrayed only as a determined, pompous grumpy-gus. I sensed that there was much more to him, much to be admired and known. In the movies I got to know, as we all did, what Thorin believed in, what he feared, what he loved. And his developing friendship with Bilbo--oh man, I loved it.

  And of course that's what makes the end so really heartbreaking. I knew it was coming, but still, they did such a good job (with the movie) that I admit I did cry just a bit. I rarely cry at all, but I can tell you I've always been a sucker for warriors' deaths. Especially ones that I truly care about. Here's an example of two people who found a reason to believe in the other, both of them characters who didn't form such respects and friendships easily. And when Bilbo goes back to Bag End, stating that the person who had employed him was a friend, it made me ponder on the whole journey of their friendship. And I think that's the major backbone of the whole story. It's not just the precursor to Lotr. The events that set that future in motion. It's not just the series of events that brought a homely hobbit from his comfy hole out into the wide world to the point where he is a major mover in the world of men, facing a dragon, negotiating in battle, fighting for those he has traveled with. It's a good example that life often is more about the relationships we form, the iron bonds of friendship that enable us to believe, to keep faith, to realize the value of things.

thorin oakenshield king pics

  In the end, I was wondering--who was Thorin really? Understanding the whole of him, what would I see, not just the tortured warrior and king? I have watched him closely, as he is a favorite character, but I often find that even with close, excited observation of a beloved character I still miss things that I can only reflect back on once the story is over, and I have the whole story arc in its entirety before me. I presume that is what it must be like in some respects, looking back on one's own life, remembering the events that have brought that person from one point to the present. Time and perspective cast illusive beams of light, only bringing illustration when we are prepared and the moment of curious reflection pricks us to look back.

  I think, in the whole, Thorin was a lover of his own country. His people. He had a lot of heart. Bitterness has easy footholds in any human heart, masking much of any possible tenderness. Thorin was driven with the belief that it was his destiny and duty to bring back the stability and glory of Erebor. It was his inheritance to rise it from the ashes that Smaug had left it in. His love was for those who were true of heart, well portrayed by the line (which won my heart the first time I heard it in the original trailer--I knew then it was going to be a great movie!):

   "I would take each and every one of these Dwarves over an army from the Iron Hills. For when I called upon them, they answered. Loyalty. Honor. A willing heart... I can ask no more than that." 

  Tell me that isn't worth remembering.

    As the journey continues, you see how much his determination is turning into something poisoned. I believe we can want/strive for something so hard that it starts becoming something else entirely. A bane. As the group got closer and closer to their goal, we see this needy, almost greedy glint flash occasionally in Thorin's glance. He still remains the dauntless leader that they need throughout it all, fighting for their lives as they try to outwit The Dragon, Smaug--but you can see the change. As Balin's says, he is not himself.

  Those who've read the book knew it would only get worse. That the things we respected would be twisted, only glimpsed here and there in their pure form. In the movie we were mercifully given moments where Thorin forgot about everything, and was reminded by Bilbo of the simple, pure things that matter in life. Things so simple, ordinary, that they make Thorin smile. Because Bilbo does not dwell on gold, or riches, or kingdoms. But the good things of home. Whatever form it takes, meaning for him, his garden, his Hobbit hole, his books. Yet all too soon, regardless of the worries and railings of his fellow dwarves and friends--Thorin descends into madness as we knew he would.

sons of durin pic
  I find it so interesting, how the fear that he would end up the same as his fathers before him turned out to be justified. Like Aragorn, he fears the weakness that has run in his bloodline, claimed the honor of those before him--but unlike Aragorn, who was able to rise above it all, Thorin does have his descent into darkness--his step onto the road of destruction. Thorin falls into the history of his people, his forefathers, into its glory, into its madness--and its end. The sons of Durin do not see the morn after the war. It is a truth that often enough, the things that make a kingdom great bring with them the veins of evil that lead to its demise. In this case, it was the rulers, the bloodline. So obsessed with the riches and glory of what their nation had brought forth that it became a poison.

  Thorin feared this, but was so imbued with the same lifeblood that even the most honorable desires that moved him to regain the lost kingdom for his people did not prevent him from turning back on himself, touching those tempting lusts for gold, for glory, for power. Yet honor can live alongside even the darkest strains of greed. And it is to be thanked that there are those who continue to stand beside us, be the best sort of friends that anyone can hope to have in this world. Those that still believe in us, and remind us of the best of ourselves--challenge us when we turn our back on what is true and good. Remind us of the simple, good things in life.

  I don't believe that Thorin would have been able to come back if it had not been for Bilbo's friendship. Nevertheless, one pays the price for their deeds. In the end they still fall on the sword that they have made for themselves. Some just have the blessing, the privilege of one last defense for what they truly believe in.

  Thorin lived--burned--under the banner of what his people and kingdom stood for, was the impersonation of all his forefathers before him, the good and the evil, in all its tortured complexities. It is a credit to him, and to what he truly believed in, that he was able to come back in time for the final defense. To rise to the challenge, standing taller for a moment then his predecessors. To truly give of himself in a way that could be glorified in song, even as, as so often happens, his bloodline did die away. Our cost in life is terrible. Yet the good we do is greater still.

  The honor of Thorin's life, and how his desires, greed, and righteous fear drove him, will always be memorable. A fallen king--but a fallen king in glory.

  His will always be one of my favorite stories.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore, Pendragon

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Very Fond But Heartbroken Farewell ~ The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

bilbo the battle of five armies
  The journey is over. My heart is broken. Today I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies with the family finally, and it was well worth the wait. The movie was spectacular. The battle carries the whole story, the end leaving us sorrowful, with the feeling of having watched something that happened, not a just another typically structured movie that has its points. I was surprised at how little Smaug featured in it, that his fall would be so soon (or at least what felt so soon). It was somewhat anti-climatic, but I suspect that many scenes were cut from this movie and that more will be added to the attack of Smaug in the extended edition. However, I did love how there was a presence of Smaug throughout the movie, his words--his insights--that figured greatly in the thoughts and fears of the characters. It was as if he was still lurking in the shadows.

   I loved how in the moment and climatic the beginning was. It carried right over from Desolation of Smaug, the danger and fear palpable and immediate. It brought you in, to the level of those suffering the consequences of their actions, and those on the receiving end of the actions of others. The desolation and sadness is truly felt. That's what I loved about the last installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. I'm just heartbroken that it's over, as I knew I would be. 

  What I've loved most in this story, (and in stories in general) was the story of the best sort of friendship. And the friendship of Thorin and Bilbo is the gold in this one. Throughout the trilogy, really--but it comes to a head here. It is what I'm most in love with, the thing I sorrow for most, and what my heart splits for. (Aside from the fact that the movies are done).

   I've never been much taken with the love story between Kili and Tauriel, but it turned out okay for me, in the end--in the end I felt for them. I was wrapped up enough in the story to forget that I'm not a fan of their love story. I liked them well enough. And at the end of that story arc, I love how well it served the characters involved. I cared for them, and what it meant when it came to it.

 I was also intrigued that you got more of glimpse into why Thranduil was such a strange, seemingly cold person. You get a look, however brief, into his history, his own loss. His own madness. It wasn't what I had expected, but something very similar. I loved that you got to know Bard and his strength better--his family is what makes him the man he is. Alfrid presents (in some ways he reminds one of Wormtongue) an interesting aspect to how Bard tries to do well by people, to try to see the possible change one might attain should they chose, and receive the chance. I thought him giving Alfrid a sort of second chance intriguing, though he does not trust him. Only enough to use him in moments of desperation--but even then, in the end, we see that Alfrid will always be a snake simply because he chooses to be--not because he wasn't given a second chance. That's what I appreciated of this aspect of the story. (Although I did expect him to give Alfrid a whack when yanking on the arm of his child, and he didn't--I found that really strange).

  I really enjoyed the storming of Dol Guldur--that was cool. The power of the White Council was stunning and beautiful. Although I didn't like the dark aspect they gave Galadriel, because that was used in Fellowship showing her temptation to the Ring, to something evil--here, in this instance, she is fighting the evil that is Sauron with Light. Yet they make her look like something dark and twisted. Powerful and fearsome, certainly. But her dark image really didn't make sense. But still, overall, very cool, loved it--but really of the opinion that they cut out a lot here as well.

  Over all, you see real people in this story. Pulling together, surviving--pulling away, turning mad, grasping at what pieces of themselves are left--trying to remember what you believe in. And trying to do the part of a friend. I found the movie incredibly real. In this one, it wasn't as much about spectacle and fun as the others were (in my opinion) it was about their relationships in the now. Their own stories, and the difference they can possibly make. The change that their choices will effect.

  You get to savor the sorrow and the joy, the gloried relief of the honorable choice in some instances, the fear of losing all that matters in life and possibly losing sight of yourself. The fear of the true enemy winning is real, even though we have a good idea of how the story ends, especially those of us who read the book. The core of the story is the power that we as individuals have in making our choices. It is simply will we or will we not fight to realize what is right, or possibly something in between. It is never so simple. Priorities are mixed, but in a way that still engages our love and respect.

  In the end, we have the bittersweet return home, remembering the good and the bad, left with the sorrow of loss, but with the blessing of friendships that have been forged. And the discovery of the type of person you yourself are. I love how the very end was, bleeding into the beginning of The Fellowship, leaving us with a taste of the joys that still come, that the story of our lives go on, and we carry our memories with us. The words of Billy Boyd in his Last Goodbye are very fitting.

 And, oh, where the road then takes me,
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But don't regret
Nor will I forget
All who took that road with me

  I probably will be writing more on this, but I just needed to get this down. Can't keep it to myself right now. My heart is too broken! Would love to hear anything you have to share about what you think of the story.

And what a story. Thank you to Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and everyone involved with getting us to care enough to share in the sorrow and the joy. 

  Until next time and another tissue,

  Elora Carmen Shore

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Once Upon a Western Way, Interview with Markie Madden

author Markie Madden
Author Markie Madden
  We have a guest today! Recently Markie Madden invited several authors to exchange interviews with her, and I was one of those who accepted. My interview with her, which was a lot of fun, was featured just the other day, and you can read it here on her website! She started Metamorph Publishing in 2014 as a means of publishing her three books, and is dedicated to helping other independent or aspiring authors to reach their dreams!

  Here's the interview!

  Tell me a little bit about yourself! Where do you live, do you have a "real" job, do you ahve any children/pets, and so on?

  I was born August 19, 1975 in Midland, Texas, though I grew up in Flushing, Michigan. I went to high school there, and was on the staff for the school paper. I won a National Quill and Scroll Society award for best picture in a school newspaper. I've been married for 10 years, and have two teenage daughters, three rescue dogs, and a horse. We now live in the small country town of Fisk, Missouri.

  Tell me about your latest book! What inspired you to write it? Where did you get the ideas for your plot and characters?

Once Upon a Western Way Markie Madden
  All three came out at the same time, so I'll pick Once Upon a Western Way to talk abut. I started writing this story in high school, and it was the first I ever tried to publish. It was based on teh game my best friend and I used play as kids. The main characters of course were based on me and him, and a lot of the supporting characters were based on our pets at the time. 

  When did your book come out, adn where can readers find it?

  All my books came out in Sept 2014, except for Western Way which was originally published digitally only at Smashwords in 2012. They can all be found at CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes and Noble (print versions), as well as several other retailers, and for Kindle digitally, though their enrollement period is almost up so they'll be back at Smashwords for Nook and iPhone soon. 

  What distinguishes your book/plot/characters from others? Don't give away any spoilers, but what's the "hook" that you think will draw the readers to your book?

  Western Way is a romantic fantasy about epic love surviving all obstacles, and full of adventure, princes, ad preincesses in a world that's a far simpler time than our own. The main characters hae to fight an evil foe (and you'll never guess who that is, but NO spoilers!) and live to escape his clutches. 

  Waht would you like your readers to take away from your book? What emotions and thoughts do you hope to invoke?

  This book was intended to entertain, to let the reader escape their own world and lose themselves in a other for a time.

  Are you planning a sequel, or another book?

  I'm not planning a sequel for Western Way, but I am currently working on a series called The Undead Unit Series. Book One is called Fang and Claw, and we meet Lacey, who's a detective with the Dallas police department. She's also a vampire. Her partner, Colton, is a werewolf with anger management issues. They're a part of an elite new squad dedicated to solving crimes involving other members of the Undead. 

  What genre do you place your book in?

  Western Way is a romantic fantasy with a touch of paranormal. I also have two non-fiction books: a memoir and a self-help guide to horse care.

  how did you publish? Are you independent or do you have a publisher? How did you decide to publish?

  I'm independently published. I tried for years submitting Western Way to publishers, first on my own, then using my income tax refund to hire an agent for a year. And still, I was unsuccessful. So I went at it on my own.

  What's your marketing plan? Do you use social media to help you market, and if so, which ones? Do you have any new ideas for marketing that you'd like to share?

  I use all social media to help promote my books, as well as swapping blog interviews with other authors, and I'm planning book signings for next year.

  Are you a member of any writing/reading groups (i.e. Shelfari, Goodreads, Scribophile, etc.)?

  You can find me at Shelfari, Goodreads, and Scribophile, as well as several writing roups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

  Thanks for the time, Markie! Looking forward to more of your news.

  Marguerite Madden's books can be found here on Amazon and Amazon Kindle, Smashwords,  and Barnes and Noble.

  Other sites where you can follow Markie Madden are her blog, her Tumblr, her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

  ~Elora Carmen Shore

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Hobbit Journey at it's End

  There and back again. Well, the end is certainly drawing nearer. I'm so excited to see the last installment of the Hobbit Trilogy, but man, it's excruciating--in a blink of an eye it'll be over. I feel like it was yesterday that I was putting brand new An Unexpected Journey set shots up as my desktop background. It's been three years already! Time certainly flies, and while I'm so glad I was there for the ride, I'm sad that it'll be completely over. I just can't believe it. I'm intrigued to know what Peter Jackson is planning next (more kiwi movies, according to this one interview) but regardless, I wonder what he'll say when his work on The Hobbit is officially over. I bet we're going to see a lot of tear-stained video clips of cast and crew. I bet working on this trilogy was one heck of a ride for everyone involved. And that's what I love to see when I watch the behind the scenes on Lotr, or The Hobbit--everyone literally looks like they LOVE their job. Even in the rough parts.

  The movies have gotten a lot of smack about how they don't adhere to parts of the story, etc. Personally, I still enjoy them. I don't watch an adaption with the expectation that they'll do the exact same. I want to see how they'll do it differently, while keeping some things the same--and staying true to the story's essence. Lotr was incredible. Granted, I come from the point of view of one who was introduced to Middle Earth through the movies--but even after reading the books and falling in love with them, I was astounded at how the stories had the same lifeblood, the same breath. With all the movies' differences, there was something there that still provided a true, honest reflection. Hobbit has done that, although perhaps not as well, but I may feel that way simply because I like the Lotr books infinitely more than The Hobbit. I feel the characters, their comedy, their sense of home-love and lost kingdoms, is the same. And I love that they showed you who Thorin really is, instead of just a snooty, grumpy royal. I sensed that there was so much more to Thorin, when reading the book (which I read before the movies were being made). It was my greatest frustration that Tolkien didn't expound on him more. Delve into him. Someone who has the audacity and guts to take back their homeland with a rowdy bunch of dwarves takes someone with something real. I wanted to know him more, but I didn't get that from the book. I feel I get that in the movies. And Bilbo is done to perfection. I fell in love quickly. So proud, and so thankful that Bilbo was done so superbly. Bilbo walked in front of my eyes, and expressed his mannerisms, the thoughts behind his eyes--and I knew him.
   And heaven knows that Smaug--well, is a masterpiece. The only things I don't like about the movies so far is that the strange love aspect between Tauriel and Kili. While sweet in thought, it doesn't feel crucial to the story, or like a real part of it. I like Tauriel's character--I love that her strength is exemplified by her kindness, and not just her prowess. We don't always get characters like that. But I doubt I would have missed this aspect of the story, if it had never been part of it. But still, as it is an aspect of the story, I'm curious as to where her story will lead.

  I am so ready to sit down in the theater to see a Hobbit film for the last time. But I know that I will be so sad when I leave. I've finally found out what it must have been like to be a fan, and watch the movies being made, coming out. I just pray that someone someday will get the rights to do The Silmarillion--and do it well.

  Elora Carmen Shore

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say