Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is from one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s letters. Tolkien is a favorite author of mine, and I’m sure most of you know that he wrote The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This quote isn’t so much about writing advice as it is about Tolkien’s own writing style. Most writers I’ve heard of always say they use outlines to plan their story. I, personally, don’t. It was really cool to hear that the great fantasy master himself apparently wrote his epic without knowing exactly what would happen next!

“I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothloriene no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horselords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fanghorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystefied as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, in a letter to W.H. Auden, June 7, 1955

~ Kayla



Five Favorite Fiction Books

I have been reading ever since I was three. From picture books to chapter books to full-length novels, I’ve read a lot of books. Today, I’m sharing five of my favorite fiction books of all time. There are about, oh, a million books I feel bad about leaving out, but this is only one version of the list of my favorites. It does change from time to time. 😉

5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read The Phantom Tollbooth. What I do remember is that my mom had ordered it from the library for me because she had seen it recommended somewhere. I was a little uncertain, but after reading it, I fell in love with the book. It’s been one of my favorites for years, and I imagine it will always have a place on my shelf. It’s the story of a boy named Milo who thinks life is boring. One day, he receives a purple tollbooth in his room. He has nothing better to do, so he jumps in his toy car, drives up to the tollbooth, and travels to another world. He encounters creatures like Tock the Watchdog, the Doldrums, and the Demons of Ignorance all while trying to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. The witty word play and clever puns make this book a classic.

4. Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques

I first listened to Redwall read by Mr. Jacques himself (He’s got the most amazing accent ever. I could have listened to him talk all day long!). I fell in love with the book, and now I have quite the collection of this series on my shelf. My favorite book in the series is Rakkety Tam. It’s about a squirrel from the highlands and his friend who work together to stop a savage wolverine from taking over Redwall abbey. Brian Jacques was a big influence on me wanting to be a writer. My first story was very much inspired by him and his work. 🙂

3. The Robot Wars by Sigmund Brouwer

I found this series when the first book was offered for free on Kindle. I finished it in about a day and got the rest from the library and blew through them in a few days. The Robot Wars is a Christain scifi series that is not at all preachy (which is a pet peeve of mine) and has an excellent story. The main character is Tyce, a paralyzed boy who lives on Mars and has never visited Earth. The books chronicle the adventures Tyce and his good friend Ashley have as they try and save the colony on Mars. Sigmund Brouwer is also one of my writing influences as he was the one who inspired me to try writing sci-fi.

2. Annals of Wynnewood by Chautona Havig

I love Chautona Havig. She’s one of my top favorite authors of all time (I love her Aggie’s Inheritance series). This is her fantasy series, and wow, it’s good. It’s the story of a boy who befriends a creature in the woods. The creature turns out to be a cloaked girl named Dove who refuses to let him see her face. I read the first one when it was offered for free one day, and then bought the last two because I had to find out what happened. It was money well spent. I read for hours to find out what happened and what Dove was.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I almost didn’t read The Hobbit. I think I can hear all the Tolkienites dying. 😉 I wanted to be surprised by what happened in the movies, but on a whim I decided to read the book beforehand. I am so glad I did! And yes, full confession here, I did get a little teary-eyed reading the Battle of Five Armies. Reading the book enhanced the movies for me and started me down the path of reading Tolkien. The Hobbit, in case you happen not to know, is the story of a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who is convinced to go on an adventure by a wizard named Gandalf to help a company of thirteen dwarves reclaim their mountain home.

See any of your favorites on my list? What are your five favorite books? Comment below and tell me! 🙂

~ Kayla



An Interesting Word – Tomnoddy

“Quite apart from the stones no spider has ever liked being called Attercop, and Tomnoddy of course is insulting to anybody.” (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, “Flies and Spiders”) When I first read that, I thought two things: Bilbo better hurry up or the dwarves were going to be eaten by the spiders; and what in the world was a tomnoddy and why should I be offended by it? Well, today I decided to find out exactly what a tomnoddy is and share it with you.

According to thefreedictionary.com, tomnoddy means “a fool; a dunce; a noddy.” In Scotland, it can also mean “a sea bird” or more specifically “a puffin.” I’m going to assume Tolkien’s intention was to call the spiders fools and not puffins. 😉

This interesting word has an even more interesting etymology. According to http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/103878/why-does-tomnoddy-mean-dunce, tomnoddy was originally “dodman,” which meant “snail.” “Dodman” changed into “hodmadod” which meant “snail,” but it also came to mean “a deformed or clumsy person” which brings us one step closer to being an insult. Since “hodmadod” just wasn’t strange enough, the word morphed into “hoddy-doddy” which also meant “snail,” as well as “a short and stout person” and “a fool, blockhead, or simpleton.” After “hoddy-doddy” came “hoddypoll.” This word had nothing to do with snails, thank goodness, and meant a “fumbling inept person.” Then came “noddypoll” which was shortened to “noddy,” which meant “stupid person.” Then noddy met Tom, and together, they became tomnoddy. And of course, that brings us back to Tolkien.

The most famous quote using tomnoddy is from Tolkien. He uses it in the quote at the beginning of the post and also in the song that Bilbo sang, from the chapter “Flies and Spiders.”

Old Tomnoddy, all big body,

Old Tomnoddy can’t spy me!

Tom Noddy is also the stage name of an American entertainer. He performs on TV and all over the world. His “bubble magic” act involves clear and smoke bubbles, building structures with them, and creating cube bubbles.

I couldn’t find a video where someone actually said the word tomnoddy. But I did find a clip of the spider scene from The Desolation of Smaug. I think that was a wasted opportunity to have Martin Freeman sing the spider song from the book! 😉

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – Writing Tips from Tolkien

Welcome to December’s link share! I hope you find these links as helpful as I did! 🙂

The first link offers writing tips drawn from one of my favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Tolkien was an absolute master storyteller, and there’s no better way to learn than from the best.


The next highly entertaining article is about making editing fun. With my massive edit for Homeland approaching soon, I figured I better start finding some ways to enjoy editing! 😀


This is a post from my favorite writing website, Go Teen Writers. I love first person for a novel, so this was a great article that helped me improve my first person writing.


As part of my link share, I’m sharing a link to a fellow wordpress blog. Matt Walsh is an amazing and highly prolific writer who publishes well thought-out posts about modern and often controversial issues a couple times a week.

Here’s the link to his blog: http://themattwalshblog.com/

And here’s the first article I read by him, and the one that had me hooked! 🙂  http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/09/11/im-an-introvert-and-i-dont-need-to-come-out-of-my-shell/

~ Kayla